radioactive wastes are the highly radioactive materials produced as a byproduct
of the reactions that occur inside nuclear reactors. High-level wastes take one
of two forms:
Spent (used) reactor
fuel when it is accepted for disposal
Waste materials remaining after spent fuel is reprocessed
Spent nuclear fuel is used fuel
from a reactor that is no longer efficient in creating electricity, because its
fission process has slowed. However, it is still thermally hot, highly
radioactive, and potentially harmful. Until a permanent disposal repository for
spent nuclear fuel is built, licensees must safely store this fuel at their
Location of Yucca Mountain
map to the left shows the location of Yucca Mountain.
the proposed site for theYucca
Mountain nuclear waste repository.
Yucca Mountain is located on Federal land in Nye County in southern Nevada,
approximately 160 km (100 miles) northwest of Las Vegas.
President has made clear that Yucca Mountain is not an option for waste
So where do we put the waste?
Locations of Low-Level Waste Disposal Facilities
three active, licensed low-level waste disposal facilities are located in
Agreement States (seemap).
Additional information about the facilities may be found at the Web sites
maintained by the respective Agreement States.
Operations, located in Barnwell, South Carolina
Currently, Barnwell accepts waste from all U.S. generators except those in
Rocky Mountain and NorthwestCompacts.
Beginning in 2008, Barnwell will only
accept waste from the Atlantic compact states (Connecticut, New Jersey, and
South Carolina). Barnwell is licensed by the State of South Carolina to
wastes in Classes A-C.
U.S. Ecology, located in
Richland accepts waste from the Northwest and Rocky Mountaincompacts.
is licensed by the State of Washington to receive wastes in Classes A-C.
Operations, located in Clive, Utah
Clive accepts waste from all regions of the United States. Clive is licensed
by the State of Utah for Class A waste only.
Spent Fuel Pools
option involves storing spent fuel rods under at least 20 feet of water, which
provides adequate shielding from the radiation for anyone near the pool. The
rods are moved into the water pools from the reactor along the bottom of water
canals, so that the spent fuel is always shielded to protect workers.
About one-fourth to one-third of
the total fuel load from the pools is spent and removed from the reactor every
12 to 18 months and replaced with fresh fuel.
Current regulations permit
re-racking of the spent fuel pool grid and fuel rod consolidation, subject to
NRC review and approval, to increase the amount of spent fuel that can be stored
in the pool. Both of these methods are constrained by the size of the pool.