Eli Kintisch
ScienceMag.org
May 17, 2011

Draft recommendations from a White House commission on spent nuclear fuel released Friday include a call for one or more new aboveground interim storage sites in the United States. But the advice, which is subject to revision in a preliminary commission report due out in July, has already drawn fire from Republicans in the House of Representatives, foreshadowing a coming fight over nuclear waste.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future was formed by President Barack Obama last year to offer advice on how to deal with U.S. nuclear waste in the wake of the White House’s 2009 decision to cancel plans for a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. “There do not appear to be unmanageable safety or security risks associated with current methods of storage at existing sites,” one draft recommendation by the panel states. But “rigorous efforts” are required to maintain this state of affairs, said the commissioners in slides presented Friday.

Yucca Mountain was intended to be a place where the radioactive fuel could cool for several decades and then be entombed permanently. The draft recommendations instead suggest a process involving separate sites for the two steps, as is done in Europe.

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