6 Leading Organizations Urge Congress to Fund Nuclear Waste Priorities in FY 2018

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, and all U.S. Senators:
Dear Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, and all U.S. Representatives:
 

The undersigned organizations seek your leadership to ensure that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) honors its commitments per the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) and contracts with utilities to remove and dispose of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW) that is currently stored at operating and shutdown reactor sites – as well as DOE’s federal facilities – in 37 states and over 100 communities.  

DOE has consistently failed to meet these obligations, harming electric consumers served by nuclear-generating utilities as well as all U.S. taxpayers.  To best enable the federal government to honor its commitments and begin mitigating its rapidly escalating liability, Congress must appropriate funds in FY 2018 for the following critical elements of an effective nuclear waste management program (as further described in the attachment titled “FY 2018 Funding Priorities – Nuclear Waste”): 

  • Completion of the Yucca Mountain Licensing Review
  • Implementation of Pilot Consolidated Interim Storage with Priority for Stranded Reactor Fuel 
  • Preparation for SNF and Defense HLW Transportation 

Our organizations respectfully seek your assistance in appropriating FY 2018 funds for these priorities.  Thank you for your consideration, and please do not hesitate to contact Katrina McMurrian, NWSC Executive Director, for more information. 

Sincerely,

Robert Coward
President, American Nuclear Society (ANS), and Principal Officer, MPR Associates, Inc.
Wayne Norton
Chair, DPC Steering Committee, and President & CEO, Yankee Atomic Electric Co.
John W. “Jack” Betkoski, III
President, NARUC, and Vice Chairman, Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority
     
Maria G. Korsnick
President & CEO
Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI)
David Blee
Executive Director
U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council (NIC)
Sarah Hofmann
Chair, NWSC, and Commissioner,
Vermont Public Utility Commission
 
View Letters with all attachments as PDF: Joint Letter to Senate & Joint Letter to House
 

 Attachment A

FY 2018 FUNDING PRIORITIES – NUCLEAR WASTE

The Department of Energy (DOE) has consistently failed to meet its obligations concerning the management and disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW).  This inaction is harming electric consumers served by nuclear-generating utilities as well as all U.S. taxpayers.  Specifically, electric consumer payments into the Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF) total in excess of $40 billion (including accumulated interest, which is currently accruing at a rate of approximately $1.5 billion per year), but electric consumers have received little in return.  In addition, over $6 billion in damages have been paid from the taxpayer-funded Judgment Fund, and the taxpayers’ liability continues to grow substantially in the absence of action. 

To best enable the federal government to honor its commitments and begin mitigating this rapidly escalating liability, Congress must appropriate funds in FY 2018 for the following critical elements of an effective nuclear waste management program:  

  • Completion of the Yucca Mountain Licensing Review.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and DOE need funding as requested to proceed with statutory duties regarding the Yucca Mountain repository license application review.  DOE should also immediately re-establish the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management to manage the program in accordance with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA).
  • Implementation of Pilot Consolidated Interim Storage with Priority for Stranded Reactor Fuel.  Congress should also facilitate a pilot consolidated interim storage (CIS) facility for SNF and Greater-Than-Class-C waste stranded at shutdown nuclear sites to enable the government to begin meeting its obligations sooner and gain experience. 
  • Preparation for SNF and Defense HLW Transportation.  Because development of SNF transportation infrastructure will be necessary regardless of destination, we seek funding for DOE to (i) test, certify, and procure rail cars, as well as licensed transportation casks and components in a manner that utilizes the private sector to the maximum extent practicable as required by the NWPA; and (ii) increase financial and technical assistance to tribal, state, and local governments for transportation and related emergency preparedness activities that will provide the public assurance that the health, safety, and welfare of communities will be preserved as SNF is transported. 

While all of these elements are important, it is absolutely essential that Congress act now to fund the completion of the licensing process for a geologic repository at Yucca Mountain.  This action would send a clear message that the federal government is committed to ensuring that DOE carries out its statutory responsibility to manage and dispose of SNF and HLW.

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