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Getting the area to prepare for long-term storage via The Commons online

Nuclear expert says VY’s nuclear waste isn’t going anywhere soon

BRATTLEBORO—Vermont Yankee and other nuclear plants no longer just spin turbines and produce electricity.

Nuclear plants, and the states that host them, must also acknowledge these sites as the nuclear waste storage facilities they are, said nuclear waste expert Robert Alvarez.

The industry has consistently “put the disposal cart before the storage horse,” Alvarez said April 18, sitting in the lobby of the Latchis Hotel, fresh from testifying before the Vermont House and Senate Natural Resources and Energy committees in Montpelier.

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Upside-down legal framework

Legally, the federal government assumes responsibility for nuclear waste only when it crosses the threshold of a federal — and so far non-existent — nuclear storage site. Until that day, the waste remains the responsibility of the power plants that produced it.

“The 1982 law does not permit the Nuclear Waste Fund, collected from nuclear power rate-payers since the law was passed, to be spent for dry storage until a geological repository is opened,” said Alvarez.

Storing nuclear waste is an “enormous responsibility,” he said. The legal framework for dealing with waste, however, is “upside down” and needs to be corrected.

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