Spent fuel disposal

The NWPA of 1982 established the federal responsibility for the disposal of SNF and HLW. The NWPA assigned responsibilities for the disposal of SNF and HLW to three federal agencies:

1. DOE for developing permanent disposal capability for SNF and HLW

2. EPA for developing generally applicable environmental protection standards

3. NRC for developing regulations to implement EPA standards; deciding whether to license construction, operation, decommissioning, and closure of the repositories; and certifying packages used to transport SNF and HLW to the licensed repositories.

The NWPA, as amended in 1987 (Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act), directed the DOE to characterize a site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, for its potential use as a deep geological repository. The geology at Yucca Moun­tain is a welded volcanic tuff and the climate is arid desert. (Other sites in salt and basalt had previously been under consideration.) However, in 2009, the Obama Administration decided that Yucca Mountain was no longer an option to be considered (see Section 18.6).

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