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NWPA Is Still a Viable Option for Solving the Nuclear Waste Dilemma

August 2010

Citation: 40 ELR 10800

Issue: 8

Author: Daniel T. Swanson

In his article, Solving the U.S. Nuclear Waste Dilemma, Richard B. Stewart analyzes the history of the failure of the U.S. to manage the recycling and disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW) from the nuclear fuel cycle associated with the production of electricity. He then develops some insightful suggestions to rectify the problem, recognizing that our current government policy is not moving the country toward a viable solution for disposal of SNF and HLW.

Stewart is correct in concluding that the current arrangement of onsite storage of civilian nuclear waste provides a relatively safe near-term option. However, there are very real security considerations attendant to indefinite storage of waste at locations never selected or constructed to store waste, with the potential for terrorists to target well-known quantities of low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) and HLW at reactor sites. As politicians become complacent with the lack of serious security incidents resulting from their failure to take decisive action to find disposal solutions, it becomes easier for them to ignore this volatile issue.

Daniel T. Swanson is the Senior Counsel for Environmental and Nuclear Regulatory Law for the Idaho National Laboratory. He was an attorney for the U.S. NRC, representing it in multiple licensing and enforcement proceedings for reactors, including the TMI accident hearings. He also served as the lead environmental and nuclear regulatory attorney for Battelle Memorial Inst. in the DOE SNF and HLW repository siting program, and in that capacity was invited by DOE numerous times to lecture to other U.S. agencies and repository siting contractors on NRC licensing. He is a 1974 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School.

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