NRC says nuclear waste can be safely stored 60 years beyond life of plant

Radioactive waste from nuclear power plants can be safely stored for at least 60 years beyond the licensed life of any reactor, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided today.

In final revisions to its “Waste Confidence regulation," the NRC revised the number of storage years upward by 30 years, and asserts that “sufficient repository capacity will be available when necessary.”

But the agency emphasized in a statement that the findings are “not intended to signal an endorsement of indefinite storage of spent fuel at reactor sites.”

“Today the Commission affirmed our confidence that spent nuclear fuel can be stored safely and securely without significant environmental impacts for at least 60 years after operation at any nuclear power plant,” said NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko. “We also directed the NRC staff to conduct additional analysis for longer-term storage to ensure that we remain fully informed by current circumstances and scientific knowledge relating to spent fuel storage and disposal.”

Yucca Mountain, the country's proposed nuclear waste repository in Nevada, once considered the final destination for spent nuclear fuel, has been withdrawn as an option by the U.S. Department of Energy – a move countered by the NRC’s quasi-judicial arm, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board.

As President Barack Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future reviews the country's alternatives for dealing with high-level radioactive waste, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell this week joined other U.S. political leaders in asking Energy Secretary Stephan Chu and the state’s Congressional delegation to stop the dismantling of Yucca Mountain until the NRC acts on the move to withdraw the national repository from consideration.

In Connecticut, spent fuel remains on site at the decommissioned Connecticut Yankee plant in Haddam Neck as well as at Millstone Power Station in Waterford, where one closed reactor, two operating reactors and a dry cask storage facility are located.

Millstone owner Dominion did not have an immediate comment.




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