In the absence of a federal geologic repository or consolidated, interim storage in the United States, commercial spent fuel will remain stranded at some 75 sites across the country. Currently, these include 18 “orphaned sites” where spent fuel has been left at decommissioned reactor sites. In this context, local communities living close to decommissioned nuclear power plants are increasingly concerned about this legacy of nuclear power production and are seeking alternative strategies to move the spent fuel away from those sites. In this paper, we present a framework and method for the socio-technical multi-criteria evaluation (STMCE) of spent fuel management strategies. The STMCE approach consists of (i) a multi-criteria evaluation that provides an ordinal ranking of alternatives based on a list of criterion measurements; and (ii) a social impact analysis that provides an outranking of options based on the assessment of their impact on concerned social actors. STMCE can handle quantitative, qualitative or both types of information. It can also integrate stochastic uncertainty on criteria measurements and fuzzy uncertainty on assessments of social impacts. We conducted an application of the STMCE method using data from the decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in California. This example intends to facilitate the preparation of stakeholder engagement activities on spent fuel management using the STMCE approach. The STMCE method provides an effective way to compare spent fuel management strategies and support the search for compromise solutions. We conclude by discussing the potential impact that such an approach could have on the management of commercial spent fuel in the United States.
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