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Title: Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management in the United States: What Have We Wrought? The Richard S. Hodes, M.D. Honor Lecture Award - 12222

In 1979, radioactive waste disposal was an important national issue. State governors were closing the gates on the existing low-level radioactive waste disposal sites and the ultimate disposition of spent fuel was undecided. A few years later, the United States Congress thought they had solved both problems by passing the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1981, which established a network of regional compacts for low-level radioactive waste disposal, and by passing the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 to set out how a final resting place for high-level waste would be determined. Upon passage of the acts, State, Regional and Federal officials went to work. Here we are some 30 years later with little to show for our combined effort. The envisioned national repository for high-level radioactive waste has not materialized. Efforts to develop the Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste disposal facility were abandoned after spending $13 billion on the failed project. Recently, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future issued its draft report that correctly concludes the existing policy toward high-level nuclear waste is 'all but completely broken down'. A couple of new low-level waste disposal facilities have opened since 1981, but neither were the result ofmore » efforts under the act. What the Act has done is interject a system of interstate compacts with a byzantine interstate import and export system to complicate the handling of low-level radioactive waste, with attendant costs. As this paper is being written in the fourth-quarter of 2011, after 30 years of political and bureaucratic turmoil, a new comprehensive low-level waste disposal facility at Andrews Texas is approaching its initial operating date. The Yucca Mountain project might be completed or it might not. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is commencing a review of their 1981 volume reduction policy statement. The Department of Energy after 26 years has yet to figure out how to implement its obligations under the 1985 amendments to the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act. But, the last three decades have not been a total loss. A great deal has been learned about radioactive waste disposal since 1979 and the efforts of the public and private sector have shaped and focused the work to be done in the future. So, this lecturer asks the question: 'What have we wrought?' to which he provides his perspective and his recommendations for radioactive waste management policy for the next 30 years. (author)« less
Authors:
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22293514
Report Number(s):
INIS-US--14-WM-12222
TRN: US14V1169115038
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: WM2012: Waste Management 2012 conference on improving the future in waste management, Phoenix, AZ (United States), 26 Feb - 1 Mar 2012; Other Information: Country of input: France
Research Org:
WM Symposia, 1628 E. Southern Avenue, Suite 9-332, Tempe, AZ 85282 (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTES; LOW-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTES; RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL; RECOMMENDATIONS; SPENT FUELS; YUCCA MOUNTAIN