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Long Term Storage

In 1987, Congress amended the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 to establish Yucca Mountain as the nation's geologic repository for high-level nuclear waste. In 2008, the Department of Energy submitted a license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to begin construction of the facility on federally owned desert land about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. However, progress on the proposed storage facility has been stalled since then by opposition led by Nevada political figures and with the support of the Obama administration.

In 2012, after two years of study, the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future issued recommendations to create a safe, long-term solution for managing and disposing of used nuclear fuel.

One of its recommendations included Consent-based Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) as part of an integrated waste management plan. Public interest in CIS has grown in southern California following the retirement of San Onofre nuclear plant. Two proposed CIS sites in the southwest are the primary focus: Carlsbad, New Mexico, which already is home to a deep geologic depository called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, and Andrews, Texas, home to Waste Control Specialists.

CIS is part of DOE's three-pronged strategy to manage used nuclear fuel: a pilot, interim storage facility with limited capacity that will be focused on fuel from the decommissioned sites (scheduled to open by 2021); a larger CIS facility (either co-located with the pilot facility and/or geologic repository); and a permanent geologic repository for disposal of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste (Yucca Mountain). DOE hosted public meetings throughout the country in 2016, including Sacramento, CA, to get public comment to shape a fair and effective process for a CIS site.

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