New Generic Repository Environmental Standards: Draft Recommendations from ANS

February 17, 2023, 3:03PMRadwaste SolutionsPeter Swift, Michael Apted, Lake Barrett, John Kessler, and Steven Nesbit
An electric continuous miner machine cuts out a waste-emplacement panel at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant salt repository in New Mexico. (Photo: DOE)

Used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes are by-products of nuclear energy production and other applications of nuclear technology, and the consensus approach to disposing of those wastes safely is to encapsulate them and emplace them in stable geologic formations (geologic repositories) where they will be isolated from people and the environment for very long periods of time. The federal government has established environmental standards for waste isolation that any proposed geologic repository must meet.

In July 2021, the American Nuclear Society established a special committee to consider possibilities for revised generic environmental standards for disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the United States. The committee developed a number of recommendations, which are contained in a draft report that was to be issued in February for review and comment by stakeholders. The draft report can be found on the ANS website, at

The committee’s draft recommendations are based on two underlying assumptions. First, that the relevant legislative framework for regulation defined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) remains unchanged. Specifically, it is assumed that the Environmental Protection Agency will be charged with promulgating environmental standards for disposal and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be charged with reviewing applications for disposal facilities using licensing requirements and criteria consistent with the EPA standards. Second, that existing generic disposal standards will be updated or replaced.

American Nuclear Society unveils draft recommendations for updating industry and EPA geological repository standards for used fuel

February 17, 2023, 7:59AMPress Releases

LA GRANGE PARK, Illinois – Today, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) released draft recommendations on updating public health and safety standards for the permanent disposal of commercial used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste at future geological repository projects in the United States. The draft report provides a recommended framework for revisiting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) geologic repository standards.

A fateful day for nuclear waste policy: January 31, 1998

January 26, 2023, 3:12PMNuclear News

Next week will mark 25 years since January 31, 1998, a familiar date to most in the nuclear community, and revisited in today’s #ThrowbackThursday post with an article from the March 1998 issue of Nuclear News. “Those in the nuclear power industry are aware of the significance of the date January 31, 1998. ln the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, that date was set as the deadline for the U.S. government—more specifically, the Department of Energy—to begin taking possession of and responsibility for spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants nationwide” (NN, March 1998, p. 59).

Vit Plant delayed: Another defeat for cleaning up nuclear waste at Hanford

September 19, 2022, 12:37PMNuclear NewsJames Conca

The Hanford tanks, on which building began in 1943, were never supposed to hold waste for many decades. If grouting and disposal had occurred according to plans from the 1980s, this waste would already be in the ground and we would have saved almost $100 billion. (Photo: DOE)

At the end of June, a federal judge approved, with the agreement of the Washington State Department of Ecology, a request to push back the deadline 20 months for beginning nuclear waste treatment at the $17 billion Waste Treatment and Immobilization (Vit) Plant at the Hanford Site because of pandemic-related delays. The Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste program is the Department of Energy’s plan to start treating low-level radioactive waste first at the Vit Plant and then start treating high-level radioactive waste sometime in the 2030s.

This is the fifth delay granted by the court for the project, which should have begun operations in 2007. In one sense, this delay is good, since turning LLW into glass through vitrification is about as smart as singing into the wind. The chemistry of this waste makes it much better suited to grouting, a treatment used by everyone else in the United States and the world.

Journalist: Nuclear waste management is key to nuclear renaissance

May 10, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

“The momentum toward a new era of nuclear energy is predicated in part on government and industry claims that new technological solutions to nuclear waste are forthcoming. But challenges remain in their realization at the necessary scale,” writes freelance journalist Jenny Johnson in the article “Nuclear renaissance hinges on solving the waste issue."

Foratom offers advice on improving EU taxonomy proposal

January 12, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

Foratom, the Brussels-based trade association for the European nuclear industry, wrote a letter yesterday to the European Commission welcoming the EC’s recent proposal to include nuclear in the EU taxonomy (under certain conditions), but also offering some suggestions for the proposal’s improvement.

The taxonomy is the European Union’s classification system for directing investments toward environmentally sustainable economic projects. On December 31, the EC’s nuclear-inclusive proposal was sent to expert panels from EU member states, with a response deadline of today. At a news briefing yesterday, however, an EC spokesperson announced an extended deadline of January 21.

One small step for nuclear waste?

May 12, 2021, 5:55AMANS Nuclear CafeSteven Nesbit
The underground Exploratory Studies Facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada built by the Department of Energy to determine whether the location was suitable as a deep geological nuclear waste repository. Courtesy of the Department of Energy.

It is no secret that the U.S. government’s program to manage and dispose of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste is in a deep ditch. Private companies continue to safely store used fuel at U.S. nuclear reactor sites, some of which ceased power operations decades ago. Other countries, such as Finland, Sweden, France, Canada, Switzerland, Russia, and China, are moving forward on permanent disposal, while for the past 11 years, the U.S. government has done nothing constructive to discharge its HLW disposal responsibilities. Rather than taking action, successive Congresses and administrations have sat on their collective hands.

Crews make progress on Hanford tank farm improvements

September 3, 2020, 12:07PMAround the Web

Crews work on Hanford's tank farm improvements. Photo: DOE

Work crews at the Department of Energy's Hanford Site recently completed removal and staging of 52 large concrete covers used to shield hoses for transferring radioactive waste between waste tanks in Hanford’s AY and AP farms. (Tank farms are groups of tanks.) The covers, known as “barns,” are being staged as part of an infrastructure improvement project until they can be used in the building of a hose system that will transfer waste from Hanford's A farm to the AP farm.

Researchers investigate effects of heat on water migration at WIPP

May 4, 2020, 10:38AMRadwaste Solutions

Deep in the underground of a New Mexico desert, the Department of Energy is studying the effects of high-level, heat-generating radioactive waste on water migration in the salt formations. At the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M., a collaboration between Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories is performing a series of borehole-scale process tests, called the Brine Availability Test in Salt (BATS) project.