New nuke-waste plan follows license for new nuclear facility

The U.S. government could store nuclear waste for up to 25 years at interim sites on federal land (including national forests) under a new proposal by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.). Over 50,000 tons of radioactive waste sit at nuclear power plants awaiting transfer to the proposed Yucca Mountain disposal site in Nevada — which won’t open until at least 2018. The feds were supposed to have taken possession of the waste by 1998, and some facilities have sued over the delay. The waste issue is a nagging problem for the pro-nuke crowd, but it’s not stopping them from moving ahead: Last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensed the first U.S. uranium enrichment plant in 30 years, a $1.5 billion facility to be built in New Mexico. Domenici said the license is important “for what this facility will mean for the renaissance of nuclear energy in this country.” The plant will generate waste that no U.S. disposal site is set up to handle, and will likely run out of onsite room for that waste in less than a decade.