The U.S. Department of Energy has confirmed that two underground structures at the decommissioned Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state have been stabilized after they were deemed at risk of collapsing and spreading radioactive contamination into the air.
Wichita Eagle 21st April 2021 read more »
Almost a decade has passed since the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future recommended a new management approach for the country’s growing inventory of commercial spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The commission reported that the United States’ failure to develop a safe and timely program for managing these wastes resulted from a top-down approach that never achieved technical consensus or social acceptance. To forge a more successful path, the commission called for a consent-based approach in which communities with adequate knowledge of risks, benefits, and technical requirements could volunteer to host one or more geological repositories and interim storage facilities. The Energy Department made some preliminary progress on defining what such a process might look like during the Obama administration, but that initiative was soon squelched by the Trump administration. The Biden administration should restart an inclusive process to design a consent-based siting approach for spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste disposal. Fast action is needed because private corporations are offering to “solve” the problem—temporarily in the case of interim storage proposals in Texas and New Mexico and permanently in the case of companies proposing the use of innovative, but unproven, technologies. Legislative proposals have also emphasized quick and piecemeal solutions that reduce consent to agreement by elected state and host community officials. Together, these efforts are likely to exacerbate challenges to developing a socially acceptable, cohesive, and effective strategy for managing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. They undermine conditions necessary for consent in a holistic systems-oriented solution.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 21st April 2021 read more »