By Luis Durani,
NAYGN AREVA Lynchburg Chapter Chair;
Core TH Engineer, AREVA
The regulatory uncertainty from recent court and NRC decisions regarding the Waste Confidence rule is directly attributable to the indecision surrounding our nation’s used nuclear fuel management policy.
Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen the affirmation of Yucca Mountain by the Congress as the nation’s sole repository (overriding the state of Nevada’s veto), the subsequent Yucca Mountain license withdrawal and de-funding of the program, the many resulting challenges put forward in Federal Court and at the NRC, and the creation of a Blue Ribbon Commission to issue policy recommendations.
Obviously, it is time to seriously examine needed policy reforms that will deliver a sustainable used nuclear fuel management system and the regulatory certainty our industry requires. These are important issues for the nuclear industry, and NAYGN members need to step forward and engage in this discussion.
As ambassadors for the nuclear industry, our collective knowledge and experience enables us to assist our neighbors and our policymakers in the call for certainty in the continued operations of the U.S. nuclear fleet.
While the practical near term impact to plant operations from this particular NRC decision is low, the decision underscores the fragility of our current environment, which arises from an extended period of policy indecision. This indecision can turn into a very real operational threat, impacting tens of thousands of industry jobs in America and our future access to the public and economic benefits of clean, safe, affordable and reliable nuclear energy.
The used nuclear fuel challenge is not a technological challenge. We have more than four decades of successful experience transporting, storing and recycling used fuel. AREVA is an example, through the U.S. market leadership of Transnuclear and the global leadership of our commercial used nuclear fuel recycling operations, of how these processes reliably complete the nuclear fuel cycle. This extensive experience is the basis for our vision for recycling used nuclear fuel in the U.S. Additional resources are available through the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), including New Nuclear Facilities and Nuclear Waste Disposal.
Our industry challenge is policy uncertainty, and we can meet that challenge by helping inform our neighbors and elected representatives about the benefits and certainty of quickly resolving the Waste Confidence issues. I encourage my fellow NAYGN members to accept this role and actively support our industry and chosen careers.