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Potential for Progress in Managing Used Nuclear Fuel, High-Level Waste?

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Nuclear Energy Institute's president and chief executive officer, Marvin Fertel, made these comments on today's nuclear waste management developments in Washington: introduction of a bipartisan Senate bill to reform the waste management program, and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz's announcement outlining a consent-based process to support development of a defense waste repository and "initial work" to support development of interim consolidated storage for used nuclear fuel.

"The nuclear energy industry welcomes today's developments for the potential they hold to finally bring some progress to the nation's long-neglected nuclear waste management policy.

"The bipartisan Senate legislation is a solid first step toward implementation of a sustainable, integrated program to safely and efficiently manage commercial used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from U.S. defense programs. NEI applauds Senators Murkowski, Cantwell, Alexander and Feinstein for their commitment and determination to achieve much-needed reform on a bipartisan basis. NEI looks forward to hearings and, hopefully, markup of this legislation and pledges to offer suggestions to improve the legislation where we see the need.

"The core elements of the legislation track well with the nuclear energy industry's principles of how a comprehensive, successful waste management program should be structured. For example, it is essential that the United States establish a new management entity, as this bill proposes, with the authority necessary to be successful, including appropriate access to funds.

"The statutorily directed construction of the Yucca Mountain project is another key element that must be part of a comprehensive program. Consumers of electricity from nuclear power plants, and the Defense Department to a lesser amount, have committed tens of billions of dollars to the Nuclear Waste Fund to develop a repository both for commercial used nuclear fuel and defense high-level waste. The government has spent more than $12 billion from the Waste Fund developing Yucca Mountain in accordance with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. That program is the law of the land and should be completed.

"Secretary Moniz's announcement today shows the Department of Energy finally is giving overdue attention to our nation's nuclear waste management challenges. It was appropriate to hear the secretary endorse the industry's fervent belief that the disposal pathways and the obligations for managing DOE's high-level waste and commercial used nuclear fuel should be addressed simultaneously, not sequentially.

"The industry acknowledges DOE's parallel development of a consolidated interim storage facility for commercial reactor fuel in a willing host community and state, and a separate repository for defense waste. These must be developed in the same time frame.

"Responsible stewardship of used nuclear fuel from the production of electricity with nuclear energy is a priority for our industry and should be for the federal government."

The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry's policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available at www.nei.org.

CONTACT: Contact NEI's media relations staff at media@nei.org, 202.739.8000 during business hours or 703.644.8805 after hours and weekends

Source:Nuclear Energy Institute