The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is looking to separate waste from the production of nuclear weapons from commercial nuclear waste from energy production.
According to a blog, President Obama authorized DOE to plan for a separate nuclear waste repository for high-level radioactive waste from atomic energy defense activities. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the department would take a consent-based approach to siting the repository in willing communities similar to other countries.
The department had been “comingling” the waste since 1985 to dispose of it in one repository. It was assumed then that more than one repository would be needed with one built by 1998 and a second built soon thereafter. DOE said separating high-level waste could allow greater flexibility in site selection, which could keep costs down.
Secretary Moniz also said that DOE will start with one or more interim storage facilities that could accept spent fuel from decommissioned nuclear power plants.
Marvin Fertel, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), said that NEI backs Moniz's decision to separate the waste.
“Secretary Moniz’s announcement today shows the Department of Energy finally is giving overdue attention to our nation’s nuclear waste management challenges," Fertel said. "It was appropriate to hear the secretary endorse the industry’s fervent belief that the disposal pathways and the obligations for managing DOE’s high-level waste and commercial used nuclear fuel should be addressed simultaneously, not sequentially."
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