The US Department of Energy is looking to store spent nuclear fuel in willing communities around the country, calling on volunteers to host the radioactive waste as it attempts to implement the White House’s climate plan.
The department announced the move in a statement on Tuesday, requesting feedback from communities on a “consent-based siting process” that will be used to identify new storage locations for nuclear waste, with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm noting the project could mean “jobs” and “new infrastructure” in the towns selected.
“Hearing from and then working with communities interested in hosting one of these facilities is the best way to finally solve the nation’s spent nuclear fuel management issues,” she said, adding that “the public’s input is central to identifying those locations to make this process as inclusive and effective as possible.”
— Office of Nuclear Energy (@GovNuclear) November 30, 2021
The Energy Department also argued that nuclear energy is “essential” to the Joe Biden administration’s goal to create a “carbon pollution-free power sector” by 2035, and a net zero emissions economy by 2050, and cited the need for “near-term action” in managing the stockpile of spent fuel.
The voluntary siting initiative was first suggested under President Barack Obama, who commissioned a panel of experts to issue a recommendation for future nuclear waste policy. The panel ultimately called for a “consent-based approach,” and by 2015 the Obama administration said it would attempt to move in that direction. President Donald Trump pushed the program another step forward last year in signing the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which set aside some $27.5 million for nuclear waste disposal activities and directed the Energy Department to find and develop new storage sites.