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Establishment of Research and Development Priorities Regarding the Geologic Disposal of Nuclear Waste in the United States and Strategies for International Collaboration

[+] Author Affiliations
Mark Nutt, Mark Peters

Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL

Michael Voegele

Complex Systems LLC, Las Vegas, NV

Jens Birkholzer

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

Peter Swift, Kevin McMahon

Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM

Jeff Williams

U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC

Paper No. ICEM2011-59168, pp. 1059-1068; 10 pages
  • ASME 2011 14th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management
  • ASME 2011 14th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Parts A and B
  • Reims, France, September 25–29, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5498-3
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE), Office of Fuel Cycle Technologies (OFCT) has established the Used Fuel Disposition Campaign (UFDC) to conduct research and development (R&D) activities related to storage, transportation and disposal of used nuclear fuel (UNF) and high level radioactive waste (HLW). The U.S. has, in accordance with the U.S. Nuclear Waste Policy Act (as amended), focused efforts for the past twenty-plus years on disposing of UNF and HLW in a geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The recent decision by the U.S. DOE to no longer pursue the development of that repository has necessitated investigating alternative concepts for the disposal of UNF and HLW that exists today and that could be generated under future fuel cycles. The disposal of UNF and HLW in a range of geologic media has been investigated internationally. Considerable progress has been made by in the U.S and other nations, but gaps in knowledge still exist. The U.S. national laboratories have participated in these programs and have conducted R&D related to these issues to a limited extent. However, a comprehensive R&D program investigating a variety of storage, geologic media, and disposal concepts has not been a part of the U.S. waste management program since the mid 1980s because of its focus on the Yucca Mountain site. Such a comprehensive R&D program is being developed and executed in the UFDC using a systematic approach to identify potential R&D opportunities. This paper describes the process used by the UFDC to identify and prioritize R&D opportunities. The U.S. DOE has cooperated and collaborated with other countries in many different “arenas” including the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and through bilateral agreements with other countries. These international activities benefited the DOE through the acquisition and exchange of information, database development, and peer reviews by experts from other countries. Recognizing that programs in other countries have made significant advances in understanding a wide range of geologic environments, the UFDC has developed a strategy for continued, and expanded, international collaboration. This paper also describes this strategy.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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