The Department of Energy this week offered details on how it would divide and use $116 million proposed for nuclear waste storage and disposal operations in fiscal 2020.
In rolling out its latest budget plan in March, the agency said only the money would support regulatory activities for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada and development of a “robust” program for interim storage until final disposal is ready.
In a detailed budget justification posted on Tuesday, DOE said $85.6 million of the $116 million would be directed to licensing and project support, balance of plant infrastructure, program management and integration, and litigation costs to resume the licensing proceeding for disposal of spent nuclear power reactor fuel and high-level radioactive waste under Yucca Mountain.
Among the anticipated activities to be funded in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1: general participation in the licensing proceeding; technical, scientific, and legal support for court challenges to the license; and preparing DOE witnesses for testimony before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission board that would hear the license adjudication.
Even with regulatory approval, it would be years or decades before the Yucca Mountain repository would be ready to accept waste. Interim storage is seen as an option for DOE to meet its legal mandate to begin removing the material from its site of generation. That DOE program would get just over $6.5 million in the next budget, paying for work including development of plans for consolidated interim storage and transportation of the waste; engagement with regional, state, and tribal transportation regulators to ready for shipment of the used fuel and high-level waste; and limited support for “logistical requirements and analytical capabilities.”
The remaining $23 million would pay for program direction: “the federal staffing resources and associated costs required to support the overall direction and execution” of both the Yucca Mountain and interim storage programs.