House bill would create spent fuel R&D program at the DOE

September 25, 2020, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Units 1, 2 and 3. Photo: SoCal Edison

A bill introduced on September 21 by Rep. Mark Levine (D., Calif.) would direct the Department of Energy to conduct an advanced fuel cycle research, development, demonstration, and commercial application program. According to Levine, whose district includes the closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), the Spent Nuclear Fuel Solutions Research and Development Act (H.R. 8258) is intended to foster innovation in the storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

The program, which would be authorized at over $500 million over five years, would have the DOE investigate a variety of options for managing the storage, use, and disposal of spent fuel, including dry cask storage, consolidated interim storage, deep geological storage and disposal, and vitrification.

Recycling: The bill, which mirrors a provision in the Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act, introduced by Reps. Conor Lamb (D., Pa.) and Dan Newhouse (R., Wash.) in March of this year, also contains a directive to the DOE to investigate fuel recycling and transmutation technologies, including advanced reprocessing technologies and plutonium uranium redox extraction technologies.

Background: In 2019, Levine convened the SONGS Task Force, which made 30 policy recommendations for managing San Onofre’s spent nuclear fuel. “As my San Onofre Task Force made clear in its report, the Department of Energy must do more to develop new solutions to the challenges our nation faces with spent nuclear fuel,” Levine said. “This bill would bring us one step closer to getting the waste at San Onofre off of our beach, and that remains one of my top priorities.”

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