The Energy Department is planning to ask Congress in next year’s budget request for authority to take title to spent nuclear fuel stockpiled at closed U.S. nuclear plants and to reprocess it, most likely in France.
DOE officials in recent years have resisted congressional pressure to move spent fuel stockpiled at U.S. reactors to regional storage facilities, saying the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) bars them from taking title to the fuel until the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada is granted a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license.
Now, sources say, the department is planning to ask Congress to amend the NWPA to remove that limitation as part of its fiscal 2009 budget request to Congress, which the DOE is in the early stages of preparing.
However, the department’s goal is apparently to transport it for reprocessing, most likely at La Hague in France, not to move the spent fuel to regional storage facilities in the U.S., as some lawmakers have requested. It is unclear whether the DOE intends to ask for authority to take title only to fuel from closed plants, or to spent fuel stockpiled at operating U.S. reactors as well.