Guest post by Alec Hoppes, Director of Congressional Affairs, AREVA Inc.
The used nuclear fuel management program in the United States has failed taxpayers, ratepayers, the nuclear industry, and the public at-large. However, there is an increasing public consensus around the immediate steps necessary to reform this program.
On Friday, the Department of Energy released its long-awaited “Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste,” which broadly outlines the Department’s approach in response to the recent Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations. The DOE’s report adds to a growing chorus calling for the establishment of a new organization needed “to provide the stability, focus, and credibility to build public trust and confidence.” Similar recommendations have been issued by the Blue Ribbon Commission; the Government Accountability Office; the American Nuclear Society; the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition, the American Public Power Association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the Edison Electric Institute; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Members of Congress in both the House and the Senate.
For this reform to truly be effective, Congress will need to assure two foundational elements for success. First, the new organization must maintain assured access to the ratepayer contributions in the Nuclear Waste Fund for use in carrying out that Fund’s intended purposes. Second, the new organization must be empowered with the authority and flexibility to succeed in its mission. AREVA and the nuclear industry believe that maintaining the full range of future options, including storage, recycling, and disposal will be crucial to assuring the operational flexibility needed to successfully meet such a complex mission.
At AREVA, used nuclear fuel is viewed not as a “waste” to be disposed of, but as a valuable energy resource to power our homes and businesses. Recovering this resource provides energy security, economic, and non-proliferation benefits. To learn more about recycling and its role an essential element of a sustainable nuclear fuel cycle, read this.