Fuel Cycle to Nowhere: U.S. Law and Policy on Nuclear Waste


The origins of the current nuclear waste disposal crisis and directions for future policy
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The origins of the current nuclear waste disposal crisis and directions for future policy
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In all, the book is as complete a history as one is likely to find on the legal battles, cleanup issues, depository problems and public resistance to nuclear weapons and nuclear waste."
--E-The Environmental Magazine

"Fuel Cycle to Nowhere is a comprehensive guide to the laws and legal issues that are major facets of nuclear waste policy in the United States."
--American Scientist

"This book is a wake-up call drawing attention to this important but overlooked aspect of the nuclear-energy industry."
--Library Journal

"...a valuable archive of the complex history of nuclear waste law and practices."
--Health Physics

Library Journal
Richard Burleson Stewart (environmental law, New York Univ.) and environmental lawyer Jane Bloom Stewart have teamed up to document U.S. policy on the handling and disposal of nuclear waste. Focusing on legislation and litigation, the authors trace the history of nuclear waste processing, pointing out how, through years of neglect and hasty measures, the government has pursued reprocessing without proper regard for financial and environmental consequences. The authors also detail incidents in which workers have been exposed to radioactivity at waste-processing facilities and note radiation containment issues that have affected workers' health. In an age when the media focuses on the environmental and human impact of failures at nuclear-generating facilities, the Stewarts criticize the lack of government regulations and laws designed to protect society from inadequate processing of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive by-products. This book is a wake-up call drawing attention to this important but overlooked aspect of the nuclear-energy industry. VERDICT This well-documented work, aimed at an academic audience, is replete with analysis of the legal, political, and scientific issues surrounding nuclear waste disposal and is thus recommended for academic, law, and larger public libraries.—Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Civil Branch Law Lib., First Judicial Dist., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826517746
  • Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2011
  • Pages: 446
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Burleson Stewart is University Professor at New York University, where he directs the Frank J. Guarini Center on Environmental and Land Use Law. The author and editor of many books on environmental law and policy and administrative law and regulation, he has served as Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources in the U.S. Department of Justice and as Chairman of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Jane Bloom Stewart is an environmental lawyer who advises governments, UN agencies, and NGOs on environmental law and policy reform. She directs the International Environmental Legal Assistance Program at the Guarini Center.

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Table of Contents

Acronyms and Abbreviations xi

Acknowiedgments xv

Introduction 1

1 The Evolution of U.S. Nuclear Waste Law and Policy 15

Nuclear Weapons Buildup and the Rise of Nuclear Power, 1946-1970 17

The Rise of the Environmental Movement and the End of Reprocessing 30

Federal Nuclear Waste Disposal Initiatives and Legislation 56

Yucca Abandoned: Repository Limbo, Orphan Waste Challenges 73

2 Radioactive Waste Classification and Regulation 84

Nuclear Wastes and Their Regulatory Classification 85

Nuclear Waste Regulatory Classification and Requirements 95

HLW Reclassification Initiatives 102

Mixed Waste 111

Toward a More Risk-Based System of Radioactive Waste Classification and Regulation 113

Conclusion 122

3 Nuclear Waste Transport 123

The Evolution of Nuclear Waste Transport Regulation 124

The Current Nuclear Waste Transport Regulatory Structure 129

Experience with Nuclear Waste Transport 133

Transportation of TRU for Disposal at WIPP 135

Transportation of SNF and HLW to Yucca Mountain 140

Assessing the Nuclear Waste Transportation Regime 142

Conclusion 143

4 Low-Level Waste Disposal 145

Early Developments 146

The 1980 Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act 147

The 1985 Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act Amendments 149

The Current LLW Disposal Situation 154

Options for Addressing LLW Disposal Problems 157

Conclusion 160

5 WIPP: The Rocky Road to Success 162

The Origins of WIPP 162

Restriction of WIPP to Defense TRU 163

New Mexico's Successful Efforts to Gain a Role in Decision Making Regarding WIPP 168

New Mexico: Federal Interactions and Resolution of Conflicts, 1980-1992 171

Controversy over Land Withdrawal for WIPP, 1989-1992 175

Restoring WIPP's Credibility, 1992-1996 179

WIPP Moves into Full-Scale Operation as a TRU Repository 180

Conclusion 184

6 Yucca Mountain: Blueprint for Failure 186

The 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act and Its Implementation by DOE 187

DOE's Implementation of the NWPA Siting Process 195

Crisis in the NWPA Siting Scheme 201

The 1987 Nuclear Waste Policy Act Amendments and Resistance to a Yucca Repository 207

Nevada's Legal Actions to Thwart a Repository at Yucca Mountain 210

The Battle for Public Opinion 214

Responses to Repository Delay 216

Twists and Turns in the Technical Debate over Yucca 217

Federal Designation of Yucca for a Repository, and Nevada's Continuing Resistance 222

DOE's Yucca License Application to NRC 225

Obama's Election as President: Political Victory for Nevada 226

Conclusion 230

7 Options for Orphan Wastes 231

Continued SNF Storage at Reactors 232

Consolidated SNF Storage 235

Evaluating Interim Storage Options 239

SNF Reprocessing 242

Conclusion 253

8 Nuclear Waste in the United States: Lessons Learned and Future Choices 254

Evolution of U.S. Nuclear Waste Policy: Recapitulation 254

Current Nuclear Waste Dilemmas and Options 258

Lessons Learned and Future Strategies for U.S. Nuclear Waste Policy 272

Appendix A Operating U.S. Nuclear Power Units by Year 307

Appendix B Uranium Oxide Spot Prices 309

Appendix C The Hanford Waste Cleanup Agreement and Program 311

Notes 315

Bibliography 397

Index 413

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