DOE Says Agency Unable to Accept Spent Nuclear Fuel

The U.S. Department of Energy's "Report to Congress on the Demonstration of the Interim Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel from Decommissioned Nuclear Power Reactor Sites" (DOE/RW-0596, December 2008) concluded that the agency does not have authority under present law to accept spent nuclear fuel for interim storage from decommissioned commercial nuclear power reactor sites.

According to a Dec. 10 press release, the report was prepared pursuant to direction in the House Appropriations Committee Report that accompanied the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 that DOE develop a plan to take custody of spent nuclear fuel currently stored at decommissioned reactor sites.

"The Department has concluded that, without legislation, a demonstration project accepting spent nuclear fuel from decommissioned nuclear reactor sites could not be completed in the near term and would not reduce taxpayer costs for waste disposal," said Ward Sproat, director of DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. The report discusses the status of the commercial SNF inventory in the United States, at both decommissioned and operating commercial nuclear power reactor sites; summarizes the contractual arrangement the government and utilities have under the Standard Contract for Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and/or High-Level Radioactive Waste (10 CFR Part 961), related litigation, and the financial liabilities resulting from the DOE's delay in performance under these contracts; provides a history of interim storage policy as it relates to commercial SNF in the United States; and identifies legislative changes and actions that would be necessary for DOE to develop an interim storage facility and demonstration program for commercial SNF from the decommissioned reactor sites.

A copy of this report is available at

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