NRDC Expert: Nuclear Waste Bill Risks “Another dead end”

Bipartisan measure should be redrawn to follow Blue Ribbon recommendations

WASHINGTON (July 30, 2012) -- A new legislative proposal to deal with the decades-old problem of disposing of tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste “risks sending the nation down another dead-end road” on the radioactive waste issue and should not be approved in its current form, a nuclear policy expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council said today.

In written testimony for a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on S. 1240, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013, Geoffrey Fettus, a senior attorney in NRDC’s nuclear program, said the bill’s bipartisan authors “have rejected several key recommendations of the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission for America’s Nuclear Future (BRC). Instead, the bill wrongly prioritizes the narrow aim of getting a government-run interim spent fuel storage facility up and running as soon as possible.” Because the legislation “severs the crucial link between [temporary] storage and [permanent] disposal,” Fettus said, “it means the bill could result in the creation of de facto long-term above ground repositories…..This guarantees a repeat of the mistakes we have seen made over the past half-century.”

Fettus said the legislation could be salvaged if it is revised to ensure that any temporary storage facilities never become de facto disposals sites, along with other changes consistent with the BRC. Among them: “Recognize that geologic repositories must remain the core of any legislative effort….Create a coherent legal framework before commencing any geologic repository or interim storage site development process….[and] Exclude distracting and polarizing closed fuel cycle and reprocessing options,” Fettus said. “Congress must create a transparent, equitable process incorporating strong public health and environmental standards insulated from political expediency.”

For more information, see Fettus’ testimony here: