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A problem in need of a permanent solution

June 10, 2012
The Journal

A federal appeals court on Friday refused to go along with a "temporary" solution to a long-term problem - what to do with the spent fuel from the nation's nuclear power plants.

A three-member panel of the Appeals Court for the District of Columbia nullified a rule of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that would allow radioactive waste to be stored at nuclear reactor sites for 60 years after a plant shuts down. The court rightly ruled that 60 years can hardly be considered a "temporary" solution.

This is a problem 30 years in the making. The nation has known that it needs to find a permanent, safe storage spot for the spent nuclear fuel produced by nuclear power plants, which remains dangerously radioactive for thousands of years.

The government has run into a mammoth case of "Not In My Back Yard," however. No state wants to host such a facility. The government had identified the most likely spot, the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada, but the Obama administration shut development of that site down a couple of years ago and cut off funding.

The court has ruled the NRC needs to complete a detailed environmental impact statement for allowing on-site storage to continue around the country, or show why one is not needed.

Better yet, the NRC and the Obama Administration should get moving on finding a permanent solution to the problem.



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