U.S. DOE Launches “consent-based approach to siting future nuclear waste management facilities” (December 2015)

The Department of Energy has announced a consultation on their intended “consent-based” process for the siting of nuclear waste management facilities. The invitation to participate is expected to be posted on the Federal Register on December 23. The following paragraphs are excerpted from the DOE announcement; please read the full story for details:

Today, the Department of Energy is taking a critical step toward the development of a consent-based approach to siting future nuclear waste management facilities as part of a strategy for the long-term storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The launch of our consent-based siting initiative represents an important step toward addressing this nuclear waste management challenge, so that we can continue to benefit from nuclear technologies. Today’s step forward follows Secretary Moniz’s announcement in March 2015 that DOE would move forward with the development of a separate repository for defense waste.

What is a consent-based siting process, and why is it needed? In short, it is a way to ensure that communities, tribes and states, as partners, are comfortable with the location of future storage and disposal facilities before they are constructed. We will be developing a detailed plan for this process in the coming year, and we need your help. …

Our strategy for managing both spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste is laid out in a strategy document from 2013, which was based on recommendations from President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC). The Strategy outlines a need for a pilot interim storage facility, a larger interim storage facility, and long-term geologic repositories. To support each of these elements of an integrated waste management system, the Strategy also emphasizes the importance of a consent-based approach to siting waste storage and disposal facilities throughout the decision making process.

The first step for commercial spent fuel begins with developing a pilot interim storage facility that will mainly accept used nuclear fuel from reactors that have already been shut down…. Beyond the pilot-scale facility, the Administration also supports the development of a larger interim storage facility with more capacity and capabilities. … The final piece of the Administration’s Strategy is moving toward one or more long-term geologic repositories for both spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. …

We want to hear from you, so please respond to our Invitation for Public Comment, which will be published in the Federal Register in the coming days. You can also attend one of our public meetings taking place across the country throughout 2016. Finally, you can send emails with comments or concerns to the Department of Energy at consentbasedsiting. Please also visit our website at energy.gov/consentbasedsiting to learn more about our activities and find opportunities to participate.

Article Title: Finding Long-Term Solutions for Nuclear Waste, December 21, 2015 – 1:00pm, as posted at http://www.energy.gov/articles/finding-long-term-solutions-nuclear-waste

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