Fertel, the president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, spoke at the Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness’ Edward Teller Lecture and Banquet in Aiken, S.C., last week.
“The country has already spent about $10 billion on Yucca, and we believe it could still be an ideal setting for waste,” Fertel said.
More than $10 billion, actually. But he’s right in assessing Yucca’s ideal circumstances for waste storage.
And if the government doesn’t move in earnest to establish Yucca as a permanent site, we’ll keep seeing nuclear waste temporarily stored all over the country — including at the CSRA’s own Savannah River Site.
A bit of background: Congress approved Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository way back in 2002. But in 2011, the Obama administration abruptly cut funding for the project — in a wrong decision that nearly everyone from the Government Accountability Office on down has described as purely political, without any grounding in safety or science. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission suspended licensing activities for Yucca that same year.
After two years of wrangling in the courts, it finally took a writ of mandamus to spur some forward motion on the issue. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the NRC in August to renew its review of the Department of Energy’s application to establish a repository at Yucca. ...
They can put that completed safety report on top of another mountain — the titanic summit of data that already proves the suitability of Yucca as a waste storage site. The title of one 2006 white paper conducted on Yucca even reflects how often it’s been examined: “Yucca Mountain: The Most Studied Real Estate on the Planet.”
That study supported all the other studies that gave the thumbs-up to Yucca. It also stressed the national security imperative of establishing a single, permanent repository for nuclear waste in the United States.
As is stands now, however, nuclear waste is stored at more than 100 sites at nuclear facilities around the country. By one estimate, about 160 million Americans live within 75 miles of temporarily stored nuclear waste.
If our nation expects to be a responsible steward of nuclear power in a quest to become energy-independent, we simply need Yucca. Now.