We are pleased to announce the release of our final commission report to the U.S. Energy Secretary. The report is the culmination of nearly two years of work by the commission and its subcommittees detailing comprehensive recommendations for creating a safe, long term solution for managing and disposing of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high‐level radioactive waste.
BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION ON AMERICA’S NUCLEAR FUTURE ISSUES FINAL REPORT TO SECRETARY OF ENERGY
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future today released its final report to the U.S. Energy Secretary, detailing comprehensive recommendations for creating a safe, longterm solution for managing and disposing of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high‐level radioactive waste.
The report is the culmination of nearly two years of work by the commission and its subcommittees, which met more than two dozen times since March 2010, gathering testimony from experts and stakeholders, as well as visiting nuclear waste management facilities both domestic and overseas.
The commission, co‐chaired by former Congressman Lee H. Hamilton and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, was tasked by Energy Secretary Steven Chu with devising a new strategy for managing the nation’s sizable and growing inventory of nuclear waste. Scowcroft and Hamilton said they believe the report’s recommendations offer a practical and promising path forward, and cautioned that failing to act to address the issue will be damaging and costly.
“The majority of these recommendations require action to be taken by the Administration and Congress, and offer what we believe is the best chance of success going forward, based on previous nuclear waste management experience in the U.S. and abroad,” the Commissioners wrote in a letter to Chu that accompanied the report. “We urge that you promptly designate a senior official with sufficient authority to coordinate all of the DOE elements involved in the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations.”
The report noted that the Obama Administration’s decision to halt work on a repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada is the latest indicator of a nuclear waste management policy that has been troubled for decades and has now reached an impasse. Allowing that impasse to continue is not an option, the report said.
“The need for a new strategy is urgent, not just to address these damages and costs but because this generation has a fundamental, ethical obligation to avoid burdening future generations with the entire task of finding a safe, permanent solution for managing hazardous nuclear materials they had no part in creating,” the Commission wrote in the report’s Executive Summary.
The strategy outlined in the Commission report contains three crucial elements. First, the Commission recommends a consent‐based approach to siting future nuclear waste storage and disposal facilities, noting that trying to force such facilities on unwilling states, tribes and communities has not worked. Second, the Commission recommends that the responsibility for the nation’s nuclear waste management program be transferred to a new organization; one that is independent of the DOE and dedicated solely to assuring the safe storage and ultimate disposal of spent nuclear waste fuel and highlevel radioactive waste. Third, the Commission recommends changing the manner in which fees being paid into the Nuclear Waste Fund – about $750 million a year – are treated in the federal budget to ensure they are being set aside and available for use as Congress initially intended.
The report also recommends immediate efforts to commence development of at least one geologic disposal facility and at least one consolidated storage facility, as well as efforts to prepare for the eventual large‐scale transport of spent nuclear fuel and high‐level waste from current storage sites to those facilities. The report also recommends the U.S. continue to provide support for nuclear energy innovation and workforce development, as well as strengthening its international leadership role in efforts to address safety, waste management, non‐proliferation and security concerns.
The Commission noted that it was specifically not tasked with rendering any opinion on the suitability of Yucca Mountain, proposing any specific site for a waste management facility, or offering any opinion on the role of nuclear power in the nation’s energy supply mix.
“These are all important questions that will engage policy makers and the public in the years ahead,” the Commission wrote. “However, none of them alters the urgent need to change and improve our strategy for managing the high‐level wastes and spent fuel that already exist and will continue to accumulate so long as nuclear reactors operate in this country.” What the Commission has endeavored to do is recommend a sound waste management approach that can lead to the resolution of the current impasse, and can and should be applied regardless of what site or sites are ultimately chosen to serve as the permanent disposal facility for America’s spent nuclear fuel and other high‐level nuclear wastes.
The United States currently has more than 65,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at about 75 operating and shutdown reactor sites around the country. More than 2,000 tons are being produced each year. The DOE also is storing an additional 2,500 tons of spent fuel and large volumes of high‐level nuclear waste, mostly from past weapons programs, at a handful of government‐owned sites.
In addition to co‐chairmen Hamilton and Scowcroft, members of the Commission included Mr. Mark H. Ayers, the Hon. Vicky A. Bailey, Dr. Albert Carnesale, Sen. Pete Domenici, Ms. Susan Eisenhower, Sen. Chuck Hagel, Mr. Jonathan Lash, Dr. Allison M. Macfarlane, Dr. Richard A. Meserve, Dr. Ernest J. Moniz, Dr. Per Peterson, Mr. John Rowe, and Rep. Phil Sharp.
The Commission’s full report is available at: www.brc.gov
Dec 28, 2011
Where We Are
The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) is in the final stages of its work and two-year term. Established in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), and as directed by the President’s Memorandum for the Secretary of Energy dated January 29, 2010, the BRCis set to complete its report and advance a new strategy for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. Our final report is due January 29, 2012.
The BRC concluded its regional public meetings in late October, and the deadline for receiving public input on the draft commission report was November 1, 2011. The full commission also held a public hearing in Washington, D.C. on December 2, 2011 at which time the Commissioners discussed and agreed on how to respond to the recurring themes that arose in public comment on the BRC’s draft reports.
At this time the BRC is revising its reports based on comments on the draft reports and the discussion and agreement of the Commissioners at the December 2nd meeting. We intend to honor the deadline before us and present our final recommendations to the Secretary of Energy the last week of January. We will also make available at that time revised reports of the subcommittees.
The BRC final report will contain recommendations to the Administration and the Congress for managing the back end of the nuclear cycle. Although the Commission’s work will be completed, the next phase of this process is for the Administration and Congress to consider our final recommendations and to consider changing existing laws and policies – and enacting new ones, as necessary – in order to facilitate the implementation of the strategy we recommend. We are committed to seeing action taken on our recommendations because we believe it is long past time for the government to make good on its commitments to the American people to provide for the safe disposal of nuclear waste.
Finally, we would like to thank the thousands of individuals and organizations who provided comment on the Commission’s draft report. We received many very helpful comments and we appreciate the many hours that people have dedicated to reviewing and suggesting improvements to our work.
Nov 09, 2011
In response to comments from a series of regional public meetings intended to gather feedback on the draft report, the Blue Ribbon Commission has formed an ad hoc subcommittee to investigate the issue of co-mingling of defense and commercial wastes. Specifically, the ad hoc subcommittee would review and make a recommendation to the Commission on the issue of whether the 1985 Presidential decision to co‐mingle defense and commercial wastes for disposal should be revisited in light of changes that have occurred over the past 26 years. This subcommittee will be focused intently upon the facts and factors that have changed since the initial evaluation, and will present its recommendations for deliberation at a public meeting of the full Commission to be held on December 2, 2011.
The subcommittee is chaired by Dr. Allison Macfarlane, and the members include Mr. Mark Ayers, Senator Pete Domenici, Dr. Richard Meserve, Dr. Ernie Moniz, Dr. Per Peterson and Dr. Phil Sharp.
Blue Ribbon Commission/Council of State Governments-Midwestern Office Conference Meeting
Minneapolis, MN October 28, 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Central Standard Time
Note: BRC has arranged to provide (one-way) call-in service for the October 28th meeting in
Minneapolis. Due to the meeting format there are two call-in sessions—one for the morning
presentations, one for the public comments and meeting wrap-up in the afternoon. We hope
this helps those who cannot participate in person.
The call in number is: 1- 866-906-7447
(8:00 am –noon, Central Standard Time)
The Participant code for the morning session is: 9606405
(3:15 -5:00 pm, Central Standard Time)
The Participant code for the afternoon session is: 1490647
Aug 11, 2011
The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (Commission), in association with state regional groups that work on high-level radioactive waste policy, will be hosting public meetings to solicit feedback on the draft commission report. The participant host groups include; the Western Governors’ Association/Western Interstate Energy Board, the Southern States Energy Board, the Council of State Governments-Midwestern Office, and the Council of State Governments- Eastern Regional Conference.
Five one-day meetings will be held to present the draft Commission report (issued on July 29, 2011) and hear feedback from state, local and tribal perspectives - as well as from interested members of the public. The meetings will begin with a briefing from Commission staff on the draft report, followed by comments from elected and appointed state and regional representatives. The latter portion of the meeting will be devoted to facilitated and interactive breakout sessions open to all who attend and will conclude with a public comment period.
All public are welcome to attend. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged but not required. Information about registration will be available in the near future. The meetings will not be video webcast. Transcripts of the meetings will be available on the website, along with all written comments anyone chooses to offer. There will be time at all meetings for public comment, and the deadline for sign-up is at 1:00 pm the day of the meeting. Additional comments can either be made directly to the website at www.brc.govor by email to: CommissionDFO@nuclear.energy.gov
The meetings are scheduled for the following dates and locations. We will be updating this information soon and will post agendas at least one week prior to each meeting.
September 13, 2011 Denver, CO Embassy Suites, 1420 Stout Street
We are pleased to announce the release of our draft full commission report for public comment. This draft report represents the work and recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) to date. It is important to note that we expect this document to continue to change and take form as we receive additional comments. The public comment period will be open through October 31, 2011. Thank you for your interest and we look forward to your comments.”
Jun 20, 2011
We are pleased to release the draft Transportation and Storage Subcommittee report, the draft Disposal Subcommittee report, and the draft Reactor and Fuel Cycle Technology Subcommittee report for public comment. These draft reports of the subcommittees represents the work and recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) to date. It is important to note that we expect these documents to continue to change and take form as they are merged to create the draft report of the full Commission, and ultimately the final report. The BRC has taken the past year to hear official testimony and public comment, and will continue to do so as these reports are released. Thank you for your interest and we look forward to your comments.
May 26, 2011
On May 13, 2011 the Commission subcommittees reported on their draft recommendations. At this meeting, the co-chairs of each subcommittee presented preliminary recommendations to the rest of the commission and the public. Following this the Commission held an open discussion of those recommendations, and the meeting was concluded with an opportunity for public comment. The subcommittees will now revisit their draft reports as necessary to reflect the May 13th discussions and will issue those draft reports for public comment by the end of May.
There will be an approximately two month window between the release of the subcommittee draft reports and the issuance of the draft report of the full commission. Because the various subcommittee reports do not necessarily represent the views of all Commissioners and will require integration into a coherent report, we will use these two months to synthesize our own views prior to compiling our group report. During this time we also call for any comments from the public on the draft subcommittee reports, and ask that those who wish to make comment to do so through our website. These comments on the subcommittee drafts will be reviewed and considered in the formulation of our draft report which will be released on July 29, 2011.
Following the release of the full commission draft report, the BRC will be seeking further comment through more public meetings and other opportunities. Plans and dates for this will be released later in June.