Current Radioactive Waste Issues:

The proper, responsible disposal of radioactive waste is currently an unsolved problem of the Nuclear Age. Several issues have come to the forefront, in part because national legislation has been put forward to address them.

Yucca Mountain HLRW Disposal Site:

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was supposed to have an operational, permanent, deep-geologic HLRW disposal facility in operation in 1997. It failed to do so. As a result, HLRW continues to be created and is stored at all nuclear reactor sites, with no place to go currently. One site was designated by Congress and President George Bush in 2003 to serve as the nation’s HLRW permanent dumpsite: Yucca Mountain, Nevada (See Yucca Mountain factsheet). However, the site has serious flaws making it unsuitable for the safe, long-term, permanent disposal of HLRW. The site also sits on land belonging to the Western Shoshone First Nation, who contest the DOE’s right to operate the facility there as a violation of the 1868 Treaty of Ruby Valley with the U.S. Government.

Re-starting and funding for this flawed site are proposed in current legislation, H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017 (see fact sheets below), opposed by most safe-energy groups.

Centralized Interim Storage:

Government and nuclear industry plans are looking to create new, additional radioactive waste storage sites elsewhere away from reactors – “centralized interim storage” (CIS) facilities, using dry casks. Current proposals call for siting these facilities on Indigenous lands and/or low-income communities of color in West Texas and New Mexico. Safe energy advocates call for the HLRW to remain onsite while providing the best possible. (See HOSS fact sheets).

Funding for this unnecessary and expensive plan are proposed in current legislation, H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017 (see fact sheets)

High-Level Radioactive Waste Transportation

At some point in time, whether to the nuclear industry’s CIS facilities, or to the final HLRW disposal facility, the HLRW must be transported by either truck, train or barge. However, the current unsafe conditions of the nation’s aging and decaying transportation infrastructure argue against this for the foreseeable future. Further, the shipping casks needed have not been licensed by NRC nor constructed in sufficient quantities to conduct this “Mobile-Chernobyl/Fukushima Freeway” migration of HLRW. Safe-energy advocates have argued for years for the need to improve and upgrade our roads and rails before moving any large amounts of HLRW anywhere, except in cases of imminent emergency.