Nuclear waste has long been the Achilles’ heel of the civilian nuclear power industry. The spent nuclear fuel that reactors generate remains radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years, however, all the spent fuel that has been generated to date is stored in temporary, short-term facilities. As the federal government struggles to develop a permanent solution, many temporary storage facilities are nearing capacity. A few states in which civilian reactors are located have placed severe constraints on the construction of additional needed storage, potentially causing the shutdown of the federally-licensed reactors. In part because of this pressure from the states, Congress has sought to create a federal, centralized interim storage facility while development of a permanent repository proceeds. This controversial effort has yet to succeed. This note will suggest that a new approach to the interim storage problem is necessary—one that involves granting the federal government exclusive authority over nuclear waste storage facilities.
Shaping Nuclear Waste Policy at the Juncture of Federal and State Law,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.