This story shows that Idaho will remain on the radar screen of those who want to boost nuclear power development without solving the disposal issue.
Much of the waste stream covered in this report is the guts of commercial reactors when they are eventually decommissioned. It’s very radioactive. The bulk of US commercial reactors are still operating. The assumption has been that that there eventually would be in a deep geologic repository. But it doesn’t exist, and the preferred alternative identified in this report can’t accept this waste without a change in the law.
One goal of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was to bolster the nuclear power industry. The law called for the Department of Energy to analyze disposal alternatives for this waste. DOE did an EIS and Idaho and a number of other DOE sites and “generic commercial facilities” (also non-existent) were on the list of potential disposal sites. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and generic commercial facilities are the preferred alternatives. While land disposal at the Idaho National Laboratory was rejected in this report on technical grounds, it is still on the table politically.
The document isn’t the last word regarding where nuclear waste will go in the future. Congress must act before this “hot-as-a-pistol” waste can ever be safely secured.