ANS asks Congress to fund EPA work on repository standards

June 24, 2024, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

The American Nuclear Society brought together 11 other energy and environmental advocacy organizations in calling on Congress to fund the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a new, technology-neutral, generic environmental standard for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the United States.

In a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees, the groups ask for an additional $3 million in fiscal year 2025 for the EPA’s Office of Radiation and Indoor Air to work on the new standard.

Finding that current regulations for the deep geological disposal of spent fuel and HLW need to be updated to reflect the current state of science and better align with international practices, ANS recently issued peer-reviewed recommendations to guide the development of a risk-informed, technology-inclusive repository standard.

The imperative: The organizations point out that it could take the EPA 5–10 years to update its disposal regulations, with additional time needed for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to update its own regulations to conform with the new EPA standard.

“Given the extended timeframe for this action, it is imperative that the EPA starts now on the development of a modern standard for future repositories,” the letter states.

The groups also note that the new standard will not impact any policies related to Yucca Mountain. Likewise, because the current amount of HLW in America exceeds the maximum capacity of Yucca Mountain, a second repository must eventually be identified, the letter points out.

“The update of this standard must be completed to prevent unnecessary delays and burdensome litigation when Congress chooses to pursue a second repository in the future,” the letter says.

The signatories: The letter, dated June 20, was addressed to Sens. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore) and Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, as well as Reps. Mike Simpson (R., Idaho) and Chellie Pingree (D., Maine), chair and ranking member, respectively, of the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The letter was also sent to an additional 24 House and Senate members.

Joining ANS is signing the letter were the Breakthrough Institute, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, ClearPath Action, Decommissioning Plant Coalition, Energy Communities Alliance, Good Energy Collective, The Nature Conservancy, Nuclear Innovation Alliance, Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition, Third Way, and the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council.

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