In the United States, commercial nuclear power plants, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Navy produce and package spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste at many sites. As of March 2017, both spent fuel and high level waste were stored at 81 locations in 34 states. Most of the 81 sites are commercial nuclear power plant sites that have spent fuel but no high level waste. At some point, large-scale shipments of spent fuel and high level waste will likely be needed to move the materials from where they are located now to a centralized facility for interim storage and/or a deep-mined, geologic repository for disposal. The modes of transportation being considered for Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Waste include rail, truck, and barge; these modes of transporting spent fuel and high level waste have been used extensively in other countries and internationally. Although small-scale shipments of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Waste have taken place for decades in the U.S., transporting large quantities of these materials will require significant planning and coordination by the DOE, which holds the responsibility for this activity.
Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (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 transporting spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste:
- BOARD REPORT - Preparing for Nuclear Waste Transportation: Technical Issues that Need to Be Addressed in Preparing for a Nationwide Effort to Transport Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste, September 2019
- BOARD REPORT - Management and Disposal of U.S. Department of Energy Spent Nuclear Fuel, December 2017.
- BOARD LETTER - To the DOE Office of Environmental Management and the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, following the Summer 2016 Board Meeting, on Developing an integrated program for management and disposal of canisters for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste systems, December 8, 2016.
- BOARD LETTER - To the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, following the Summer 2015 Board Meeting on Transportation of Spent Nuclear Fuel, August 31, 2015.
To see a full listing of the Board's activities, please visit OUR WORK on the menu.