Nearly every country that has chosen a long-term strategy for managing its spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste has opted to pursue disposal in deep-mined, geologic repositories. In the United States, Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) in 1982, which assigned to the Department of Energy (DOE) responsibility for managing the disposal of all spent fuel and high-level waste and specified in detail a process for siting a deep-mined geologic repository. The NWPA was amended in 1987 to limit site characterization solely to the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. DOE submitted a license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2008 for development of a repository at Yucca Mountain, but stopped work on the repository in 2010 and petitioned the NRC to withdraw the license application. The NRC suspended its review of the application the following year. However, the NRC suspension was reversed by the courts in 2013, and early in 2015, the NRC issued the last of five Safety Evaluation Reports following its review of the license application. Since then, the licensing process for a Yucca Mountain repository has been in limbo while DOE has investigated technical issues associated with alternative geologic disposal options as part of its work on developing a waste management system.
Under the NWPA, as amended, the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board is charged with evaluating the technical and scientific validity of activities undertaken by DOE under the NWPA related to managing and disposing of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste.
Examples of Board activities related to geologic disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste:
- PUBLIC MEETING/WORKSHOP - Workshop on Recent Advances in Repository Science and Operations from International Underground Research Laboratory Collaborations, April 24-25, 2019
- BOARD REPORT - Geologic Repositories: Performance Monitoring and Retrievability of Emplaced High-Level Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel, May 2018
- BOARD REPORT - Management and Disposal of U.S. Department of Energy Spent Nuclear Fuel, December 2017
- BOARD REPORT - Technical Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Energy Deep Borehole Disposal Research and Development Program, January 2016
To see a full listing of the Board's activities, please visit OUR WORK on the menu.