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Nuclear waste has been piling up across America with nowhere to go. Congress needs to act via Los Angeles Times

By DAVID G. VICTOR, DAN STETSON and JERRY KERN

At 74 sites around the country, radioactive waste from the nation’s commercial nuclear reactors is accumulating with no place to go.

The long-standing problem is becoming a logistical and administrative nightmare. Financial pressures are forcing many reactors to close. Thousands of canisters packed with highly radioactive fuel remain.

There are closed nuclear reactors in at least 34 states, including Maine, Florida, Pennsylvania and New York. Some are near big cities, such as the San Onofre plantsouth of Los Angeles. The sites are monuments to decades of political neglect and mangled nuclear strategy.

[…]

At the center of the debate is the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 — legislation that was predicated on the idea that our nuclear reactors, which reload with fresh fuel every 18 to 24 months, would send their spent fuel to at least one national permanent repository.

The 1982 law was passed with strong support, because the location of any repository was unknown. A few years later, the country settled on Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, about 100 miles from Las Vegas.

[…]

Other countries, including Canada and Finland, have avoided this kind of impasse. They invited local communities to compete for the investment and jobs that would come with a nuclear waste repository. By the time this better approach became conventional wisdom, American politics around nuclear waste had already been thrust into gridlock by Yucca Mountain.

New legislation could rectify all this, and some proposals are already in the works.

[…]

New technologies could help. For instance, a technique that would inject spent nuclear waste into the Earth’s crust — known as deep borehole drilling — is being tested and may offer alternatives to Yucca.

Regions with closed nuclear plants, including in Southern California, need to keep organizing and pressuring their legislators. The industry and the Decommissioning Plants Coalition, a political lobby also known as the Dead Plant Society, must talk less about the mechanics of closing plants and more about making the politics work.

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