Deep geologic repository progress

November 10, 2023, 3:07PMNuclear NewsEmily Stein

Outside my office, there is a display case filled with rock samples from all over the world. It contains a disk of translucent, orange salt from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.; a core of white-and-bronze gneiss from the site of the future deep geologic repository in Eurajoki, Finland; several angular chunks of fine-grained, gray claystone from the underground research laboratory at Bure, France; and a piece of coarse-grained granite from the underground research tunnel in Daejeon, South Korea.

U.S. requests review of circuit court’s ruling on Texas storage facility

October 27, 2023, 12:05PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice are asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review its decision to vacate Interim Storage Partners’ license to build and operate a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for commercial spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas.

The Shape of Water: Nuclear Divers Return to Sellafield’s Legacy Ponds

September 28, 2023, 3:38PMRadwaste Solutions
Josh Everett, a diver with UCC UK Ltd., enters bay No. 11 of Sellafield’s Pile Fuel Storage Pond in December 2022, the first time in over 60 years a diver has entered the legacy pond, used to store a variety of spent nuclear fuel types and wastes. During this commissioning nuclear dive, Everett’s underwater tasks included emergency diver extraction trial confirmation, radiation monitoring system verification, and radiation contact meter commissioning. (Photos courtesy of Sellafield Ltd.)

The last time a human entered the Pile Fuel Storage Pond at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, England, was in 1958, when records show a maintenance operator and health physics monitor carried out a dive into the newly constructed pond to repair a broken winch. At least that was true until December 2022, when Josh Everett, a diver from the U.K. specialist nuclear diving team Underwater Construction Corporation (UCC) UK Ltd., became the first person in more than 60 years to work in one of the most unique workplaces in the world.

Jumping hurdles: ARPA-E and the path to advanced reactor deployment

September 15, 2023, 3:31PMNuclear NewsJenifer Shafer and Robert Ledoux

The Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), a branch of the Department of Energy, is tasked with driving the research and development of cutting-edge energy technologies. The agency’s core emphasis is on mitigating emissions, increasing energy efficiency, reducing imports, ensuring energy systems resiliency, and offering transformative solutions for the management of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel (SNF). Its mission is instrumental in ensuring the United States retains its technological superiority in the design and implementation of new energy technologies. Efforts in SNF research also benefit prior investments in ARPA-E’s MEITNER (Modeling-Enhanced Innovations Trailblazing Nuclear Energy Reinvigoration) and GEMINA (Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets) programs, which seek to substantially decrease the capital and operational expenditures associated with advanced reactors (ARs).

American Nuclear Society recommends updating EPA repository regs

August 16, 2023, 9:15AMPress Releases

Downers Grove, Illinois – The American Nuclear Society (ANS) published a finalized report on recommendations for 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.

NRC pushes decision on Holtec CISF to May

March 23, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has delayed issuing a decision on the licensing of Holtec International’s proposed consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) in New Mexico for at least two more months. In a letter sent to Holtec on March 20, the NRC said the delay was “due to unforeseen resource constraints.”

New Mexico sets up roadblock to Holtec storage facility

March 21, 2023, 9:43AMRadwaste Solutions
A rendering of Holtec’s proposed HI-STORE CISF in New Mexico. (Image: Holtec)

New Mexico has passed legislation aimed at preventing Holtec International from constructing and operating a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel in the state. On March 17, hours after being passed by the New Mexico House on a 35-28 vote, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed SB 53, which prohibits the storage and disposal of radioactive waste in New Mexico without the state’s consent.

Locked in glass: The vitrification of LLW streams

March 10, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste SolutionsAmanda Gilmore
A sample of GeoMelt glass. (Photos: Veolia)

When it comes to managing nuclear waste, technology is transforming the way some of the most problematic waste is handled. The idea to transform nuclear waste into glass was developed back in the 1970s as a way to lock away the waste’s radioactive elements and prevent them from escaping. For more than 40 years, vitrification has been used for the immobilization of high-level radioactive waste in many countries around the world, including the United States.

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.

25th anniversary of failure (and a chance at opportunity)

January 30, 2023, 3:00PMANS Nuclear CafeLake Barrett

Silver anniversaries are usually a cause for great celebration, but this one is a cause for regret and a renewed plea for action. January 31, 2023, marks the 25th anniversary of the Department of Energy’s failure under law and contract to start the removal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from the country’s 74 commercial nuclear power plant sites in 35 states for disposal per the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. I personally know the moral and legal responsibility associated with this failure, because in 1998, as the then responsible DOE official, I had to personally announce it. But much has changed since then. There are many new avenues to address these past problems like federal, state, and community partnerships that can be beneficial for all, if there is DOE leadership and congressional action for both disposal and storage.

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).

DOE awards $800K to ANS, ECA to engage on nuclear energy

December 9, 2022, 7:00AMANS News

The Department of Energy yesterday awarded the American Nuclear Society and Energy Communities Alliance Inc. (ECA) a combined $800,000 to connect with communities across the country and establish education and outreach opportunities in nuclear energy. (A Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit, ECA “brings together local government officials to share information, establish policy positions, and promote community interests to address an increasingly complex set of constituent, environmental, regulatory, and economic development needs,” according to its website.)

Nuclear waste disposal—What choice do we really have?

November 22, 2022, 6:50AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Taking waste into outer space would require quite large vehicles, like the Saturn 5 rocket shown here carrying the Apollo 14 crew to the moon. A huge fireball forms underneath the rocket . . . hmm, would that be wise? (Source: NASA)

Nuclear waste disposal presents a frustrating problem far beyond its actual danger. No one has ever been harmed by commercial nuclear waste, and no one is likely to ever be harmed.

But we do have to find a final resting place for nuclear waste as it decays away back to the levels of the ore from which it came.

There are several types of nuclear waste: low-­level waste (LLW), intermediate-­level waste (ILW), transuranic waste (TRU; referring only to bomb waste without a lot of ­cesium-­137 or strontium-­90), high-­level waste (HLW; also only bomb waste), and spent nuclear fuel (SNF; from commercial power plants only). In the United States, TRU waste, HLW, and SNF require deep geologic disposal by law.

Deep Isolation to license its waste disposal technology to Amentum

August 11, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Schematic of a deep horizontal borehole repository for nuclear waste. (Image: Deep Isolation)

Deep Isolation announced that it has signed a memorandum of agreement with engineering services company Amentum to further the commercialization of Deep Isolation’s nuclear waste storage and disposal technology around the world. The initial targets for joint work include locations in Europe and the Pacific that represent a combined market for geologic disposal of spent fuel and high-level waste worth more than $30 billion, the company said.

NRC issues final environmental review of Holtec’s SNF storage facility

July 14, 2022, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions
A rendering of Holtec’s proposed HI-STORE CISF in New Mexico. (Image: Holtec)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has published its final environmental impact statement (EIS) for Holtec International’s proposed HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel in southeastern New Mexico. Based on its environmental review, the NRC staff recommends issuing the license, subject to the findings in the staff’s ongoing safety review of the application.

New Mexico State collaborates on spent fuel recycling under ARPA-E program

July 12, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

New Mexico State University is collaborating with TerraPower, Idaho National Laboratory, and Savannah River National Laboratory on a three-year project to develop a plan to recycle spent nuclear fuel. The project is being funded by an $8.5 million grant from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), under the Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems (ONWARDS) program. ONWARDS is designed to increase the use of nuclear power as a reliable, clean energy source, as well to as limit the amount of waste generated by advanced nuclear reactors.

To aid Diablo Canyon, feds propose changes to nuclear credit program

June 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy has issued a proposed guidance amendment for its $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program in response to a letter last month from California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration suggesting “a few minor adjustments” to the program’s guidance to address “the unique circumstances” of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. (Previously a supporter of the premature 2025 closure of the Avila Beach, Calif., facility, Newsom told the Los Angeles Times in late April that his office would look into using the CNC Program to keep the plant in operation beyond its scheduled closure date, citing climate change and the threat of power shortages in the state.)

China’s prototype technology described as step toward energy independence

June 20, 2022, 9:27AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Roadmap for the China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System project development. (Image: Zhijun Wang/CAS)

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Modern Physics are making strides with their China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System (CiADS) technology, which is being developed to get more life out of used nuclear fuel. Defense One, an online news source that focuses on “the future of U.S. defense and national security,” describes the prototype system as a step in moving China toward energy independence and advancing that nation’s “global leadership in climate-friendly technology.”