Energy | Ecotrope

Wasting $24 billion for U.S. nuclear waste storage?

Ecotrope | March 16, 2011 8:11 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:40 p.m.

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If I’m reading this news correctly, it appears the U.S. has a $24 billion fund for nuclear waste management that’s sitting unused in the U.S. Treasury with little prospect of being spent on a permanent nuclear waste storage site. In the absence of a permanent storage site, 104 commercial nuclear plants in the U.S. are storing spent fuel on site in pools of water or in dry casks. This is one of the lows of nuclear power.

Environmental News Service reports the Nuclear Energy Institute is suing the feds to eliminate the waste management fee paid by nuclear power consumers across the country. The industry argues the fee isn’t needed now that the Obama administration has dropped the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage plan and proposed a budget that includes no funding for nuclear waste management. From ENN:

“Congress created the fee in 1982 to help pay for a permanent geologic nuclear waste repository beneath Yucca Mountain 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The U.S. Department of Energy had planned to use the mountain to bury 77,000 tons of highly radioactive waste.

The Yucca Mountain site was approved by Congress and President George W. Bush in 2002.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission began licensing hearings for Yucca Mountain in 2009 but they were put on hold when the Obama administration said it would terminate the program.

The fee is paid to the Nuclear Waste Fund, held in the U.S. Treasury.

The industry contends that a review of the need to continue the fee performed by the Energy Department is inadequate and that the fee for the used fuel management program should be suspended.

The fee amounts to approximately $750 million in annual revenues for the Nuclear Waste Fund, which has a balance of more than $24 billion.

NEI and the plaintiff companies argue that collection of the fee is not necessary given that the Obama administration’s budget request for fiscal 2012 does not include any funding for the used nuclear fuel management program.”

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