"....The federal government must also provide for the safe disposal of nuclear waste. At present, nuclear waste continues to be stored at local plant sites. The Department of Energy is over a decade behind schedule for accepting nuclear waste from utilities, but has made progress toward characterization of the Yucca Mountain, Nevada site. Construction of an exploratory studies facility has been completed, a viability assessment was published, and recently scientists placed their extensive research about
Yucca Mountain on the record for public scrutiny. However, key regulatory standards to protect public health and the environment at the repository have not been issued.
The Administration will continue to study the science to determine whether to proceed with the consideration of this site as the location for the repository. If the Administration decides to proceed, the Department of Energy must file a license application with the NRC. No waste will be sent to any location until the NRC determines it to be safe.
Other countries have developed different approaches for nuclear waste disposal. For example, the French, British and Japanese rely on reprocessing, an industrial approach that separates nuclear waste into usable fuel and highly concentrated waste. While this approach does not obviate the need for geologic disposal of nuclear waste, it could significantly optimize the use of a geologic repository. There is growing interest in new technology known as accelerator transmutation, which could be used in combination with reprocessing to reduce the quantity and toxicity of nuclear waste.
The NEPD Group recommends that, in the context of developing advanced nuclear fuel cycles and next generation technologies for nuclear energy, the United States should reexamine its policies to allow for research, development and deployment of fuel conditioning methods (such as pyroprocessing) that reduce waste streams and enhance proliferation resistance. In doing so, the United States will continue to discourage the accumulation of separated plutonium, worldwide.
The United States should also consider technologies, in collaboration with international partners with highly developed fuel cycles and a record of close cooperation, to develop reprocessing and fuel treatment technologies that are cleaner, more efficient, less waste-intensive, and more proliferation-resistant."
Report of the National Energy Policy Development Group, National Energy
Policy, May 2001. http://www.whitehouse.gov/energy/