The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission voted 5-2 yesterday to approve rules for accepting out-of-state nuclear materials. This is a huge victory for the nuclear energy industry which currently only has three other such storage sites in the U.S. Nuclear Energy Institute Ralph Andersen tells the WSJ: “This is a major milestone. It’s going to provide much needed space.”
The site will not store highly contaminated waste, such as spent fuel from power plants. Instead it will hold low-level waste like materials and equipment from nuclear plants, research laboratories and hospitals. But with 58,000 tons of waste sitting at reactors and universities across the country, the new Texas facility is just a start. What is really needed is a free-market approach to managing nuclear waste, with proper government oversight. Among the steps needed to privatize the system, as outlined by Heritage nuclear expert Jack Spencer, include:
• Creating the legal framework that allows the private sector to price geologic storage as a commodity;
• Empowering the private sector to manage used fuel;
• Repealing the 70,000-ton limitation on the Yucca Mountain repository and instead let technology, science, and physical capacity determine the appropriate limit;
• Creating a private entity that is representative of but independent from nuclear operators to manage Yucca Mountain;
• Repealing the mil, abolish the Nuclear Waste Fund, and transfer the remaining funds to a private entity to cover the expenses of constructing Yucca Mountain; and
• Limiting the federal government’s role to providing oversight, basic research, and development and taking title of spent fuel upon repository decommissioning.
The full paper, which details the federal government’s mismanagement of waste, can be found here.