Policy ForumENERGY

Nuclear Waste Management in the United States—Starting Over

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Science  10 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5937, pp. 151-152
DOI: 10.1126/science.1174594

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The recent action to shelve Yucca Mountain as the potential geologic repository for U.S. “spent” (i.e., no longer usable) nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level nuclear waste (HLW) (1) brings to a close a 30-year effort to develop and implement a policy for nuclear wastes in the United States. Selection by Congress in 1987 of Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the only site to be investigated condemned the United States to pursue a policy that had no backup if Yucca Mountain failed politically or technically.