A recent “Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future” report to the U.S. Secretary of Energy concludes that a nuclear waste-management program is at an impasse and recommends a consent-based approach to siting future facilities. The commission was formed in January 2010 after the Department of Energy (DOE ) halted work at the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository in Nevada because of opposition to the repository’s location.

As defined in the report, consent-based approaches encourage communities to volunteer to host a new waste-management facility while allowing for a new, independent waste-management organization to approach suitable communities. The report also recommends creating a new organization dedicated solely to implementing a nuclear waste-management program with the authority and resources to succeed. The new organization would be responsible for siting, licensing, building, and operating facilities for consolidated interim storage and final disposal of civilian- and defense-spent fuel.  

A third recommendation would require that the new waste-management organization have assured access to the balance in the Nuclear Waste Fund and to revenues generated by the annual nuclear waste fee payments from rate payers and utilities. Fourth, the commission recommends that one or more consolidated interim storage facilities be developed promptly, and finally, that the United States take active leadership in international efforts to address safety, waste management, nonproliferation, and security concerns.