Morning Briefing - June 11, 2019
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June 11, 2019

House Panel to Discuss Spent Fuel Bills

By ExchangeMonitor

A House of Representatives subcommittee has scheduled a hearing Thursday to discuss three bills intended to promote consolidated interim storage and eventual disposal of spent reactor fuel from U.S. nuclear power plants.

The latest of these measures is the Storage and Transportation of Residual and Excess (STORE) Nuclear Fuel Act, filed last week by Rep Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).

That legislation would authorize the U.S. Department of Energy to assume ownership of used commercial nuclear fuel to speed up the creation of consolidated interim spent fuel storage sites. It would allow both DOE and private companies to develop such facilities, with priority given to the commercial sector, and would create a process to develop a storage site based on consent-based agreements with tribal, state, and local governments.

Roughly 80,000 metric tons of radioactive used fuel remains stranded at atomic energy facilities around the United States. The 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act directed the Energy Department to by Jan. 31, 1998, begin taking that material for disposal. The agency has yet to do so.

“The current nuclear storage reality is not sustainable. Keeping spent fuel at decommissioned plants is unfair to communities across the country who never signed up to play host to dangerous radioactive waste for decades,” Matsui, whose congressional district covers the decommissioned Rancho Seco nuclear plant, said in a press release.

Also up for discussion starting at 10 a.m. Thursday by the House Energy and Commerce environment and climate change subcommittee are Rep. Jerry McNerney’s (D-Calif.) Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2019 and Rep. Mike Levin’s (D-Calif.) Spent Fuel Prioritization Act of 2019. Witnesses include: Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute; Lake Barrett, former acting chief of DOE’s now-disbanded Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management; and Robert Halstead, executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects.

Two commercial ventures are seeking federal licenses for consolidated interim storage sites in Texas and New Mexico.