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Nuclear Safeguards Education Portal

Disposal--Part 2

The original plan for disposing of high level waste in the US was to send it to the geological repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.  In 2009, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it plans to terminate the Yucca Mountain repository project and has convened the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future to evaluate alternative approaches for meeting the federal responsibility to manage and ultimately dispose of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from both commercial and defense activities [Ref. DOE FY 201 Congressional Budget Request Volume 5, May 2009, DOE/CF-039, page 504].  An implication of this course of action is that more commercial spent or used nuclear fuel will be stored for longer periods in wet or dry storage than previously anticipated.  It is unknown when or whether currently stored spent or used fuel will be transported, and if so, if the subsequent destination will be an interim storage site, a reprocessing plant, or a federal waste repository.  Under current US law, at some point, DOE will come into possession of all commercial spent or used nuclear fuel.

The following videos describe the Yucca Mountain repository project as it was conceived and show how a long-term storage facility for high level waste might work.

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