Friday, July 10, 2009

The Nuclear Waste Fund

US nuclear utilities question waste fees

10 July 2009

US nuclear utilities have written to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking him why they should continue paying some $770 million annually towards the Yucca Mountain waste repository since the project has now been scrapped and no alternative has yet been proposed.

In February, the Obama administration announced that funding for the Yucca Mountain project had been reduced to all but zero and that a new plan for the disposal of the country's used nuclear fuel and high-level waste would be developed. However, licensing activities for Yucca Mountain are to continue. The result is that, although Yucca Mountain has not been officially cancelled, the USA currently has no firm plan for the disposition of over 60,000 tonnes of used nuclear fuel from power stations, as well as 20,500 tonnes of wastes from military activities.

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the US industry body, has written to Chu on behalf of its members to "express its deep concern about the federal government's failure to fully carry out the statutory obligation to implement the nuclear waste policy established almost three decades ago in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA)."

The NEI points out that "the NMPA remains the law and it is incumbent on the [Department of Energy] to comply with its mandates." The NWPA, it says, requires the Energy Secretary to annually review the payments made by utilities to ensure they will meet the costs of the DoE's used nuclear fuel management program. The fees can be adjusted according to this review.....

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