The “Reset” initiative engaged technical experts, government officials and members of the public in a series of focused meetings on the Reset of U.S. Nuclear Waste Management Strategy and Policy. The meetings were organized by an international Steering Committee. The project is funded by the Precourt Institute for Energy and the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford. The meetings at Stanford were hosted by the Center for International Security and Cooperation. Meetings hosted by the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University were supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
The U.S. nuclear waste management program now faces a series of significant, nearly insurmountable, issues that must be resolved before there is any confidence that the nuclear waste at the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle can be safely stored, transported and placed in a geological repository for final disposal. After more than thirty years of effort, there is still no clear way forward for the selection, characterization and development of a geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level nuclear waste (HLW). In 2010, the Obama Administration attempted to withdraw the license application for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. In 2013 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was ordered by a federal court to continue the license application review, as long as funding was available. Because those funds were limited and no new money has been appropriated since 2010, the Yucca Mountain Project is now caught in a political limbo between proponents and opponents. Even if that project should move forward, it has become clear to most parties that important changes will need to be made in the U.S. approach.
As a first step, and in order to inform future legislation, the “Reset” meetings provided a forum for the discussion of the critical issues that must be addressed in order for the U.S. program to move forward.
The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) was formed by the Secretary of Energy at the request of the President to conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle and recommend a new strategy. This 2012 report highlights the Commission’s findings and conclusions and presents recommendations for consideration by the Administration and Congress, as well as interested state, tribal and local governments, other stakeholders, and the public.