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First US Nuclear Repository a Distant Dream even as Several Needed

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USA has the largest amount of spent nuclear waste in the world and it does not have a single permanent nuclear waste storage site. It is quite shocking that thousands of tons of dangerous nuclear waste is put in temporary locations waiting to start a new disaster in the Fukushima pattern. Note the greatest danger and fallout from the recent nuclear disaster was due to spent nuclear rods . The first site that was being prepared in Yucata mountains is mired in controversy despite millions of dollars being spent.

The Blue Ribbon Commission has failed to bring the process any closer with Chu saying that several permanent nuclear waste storage sites are needed . However even one looks like a distant dream with tons of nuclear waste being added every day. Note other countries like Japan have not done anything either on this front leading to Fukushima. Half baked ideas like dumping the nuclear waste in Mongolia have also come up a cropper.

Nuclear Waste Storage in USA is a complete Mess

Nuclear Storage Sites in USA – Do Not Exist

The US has 65,192 tonnes of the waste but the nation has no place to permanently store the material, which stays dangerous for tens of thousands of years.Currently, there are no permanent disposal facilities in the United States for high-level nuclear waste; therefore commercial high-level waste (spent fuel) is in temporary storage, mainly at nuclear power plants.A permanent facility was planned in the Yucca Mountains in Nevada by the Congress in 1987.This  project that has long been the subject environmental and political opposition and with the Obama administration cutting funding this project appears to be in limbo after $9 billion was spent.

Currently High-level waste (spent fuel) is in temporary storage, mainly at nuclear power plants while low-level waste, three commercial land disposal facilities are available, but they accept waste only from certain states or accept only limited types of low-level wastes.

Low Level Waste Sites in USA

  1. Hanford, located in Hanford, WA. Hanford accepts waste from the Northwest and Rocky Mountain compacts.
  2. Barnwell, located in Barnwell, SC. Previously, Barnwell accepted waste from all U.S. generators. As of July 2008, Barnwell only accepts waste from the Atlantic Compact States (Connecticut, New Jersey, and South Carolina).
  3. Energy Solutions, located in Clive, UT. Energy Solutions accepts waste from all regions of the United States.

Blue Ribbon Commission

Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday said that the United States will likely need more than one permanent repository for commercial nuclear fuel waste, even after a decades-long battle killed plans for a single repository site long-planned for Nevada.

The comment came in the wake of a final report last week from the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, which was set up by Chu to examine what to do with spent nuclear fuel now languishing at commercial nuclear power plants around the country.

“You need several, in all probability, you need several repositories,” Chu said during a meeting of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. Chu put together the 13-member SEAB in 2010, and it includes scientists, business leaders, university professors and former government officials.

Siting just one nuclear waste repository has been a struggle for the federal government. President Barack Obama terminated the controversial Yucca Mountain repository project in Nevada after more than 25 years in development. Siting it in the state has drawn massive local opposition, notably from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat.

Read about Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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