By Jarret Adams
As a group of 16 utilities and the Nuclear Energy Institute filed suit to stop payment of Nuclear Waste Fund fees, questions and opportunities again are emerging as to how the U.S. manages used nuclear fuel. The companies argue that, after taking the Yucca Mountain repository off the table, the U.S. no longer has a viable plan according to an article in the New York Times.
The utilities, which filed the lawsuit in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, jointly pay about $750 million a year — amounting to a tenth of a cent per kilowatt hour — into the fund. It now stands at about $24 billion and earns about $1 billion annually in interest.
The money was supposed to pay for the development of the Yucca Mountain repository, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, but the Energy Department said last month that it was formally seeking to withdraw its application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate the site.
However, this reexamination of the fee collection for nuclear waste management also offers the opportunity to consider recycling as part of a comprehensive approach.
AREVA offered a presentation in late March of its proven recycling business along with a virtual tour of its La Hague recycling facility. This presentation coincided with the first meeting of a federal Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to study options for managing the nation’s nuclear waste.
In addition, the NYT also published an article April 6 entitled “A Town Says ‘Yes, in Our Backyard’ to Nuclear Site,” which focuses on the strong public support in Osthammer, Sweden as a site for the nation’s proposed repository. This piece offers a compelling example for siting a similar U.S. facility in the future.
As an additional note: NEI’s latest public opinion survey shows a new record level of support for nuclear energy at 74 percent, which is excellent news. But this is not the most interesting part. The same survey found that 79 percent support the option of recycling nuclear fuel in the U.S. Definitely something to consider.