DOE's Community-Centric Model for Nuclear Spent Fuel Storage

DOE Consent Based SittingUnited States Department of Energy (DOE) unveiled a funding commitment of $26 million. This funding will support collaborative initiatives involving university groups, nonprofits, and private-sector partners. These coalitions will engage with communities interested in DOE's community-centered approach to storing and disposing of spent nuclear fuel—a process referred to as consent-based siting. In this endeavor, the DOE, alongside these consortia, will strive for transparency and garner local support. Concurrently, the DOE continues to spearhead research and development for the long-term disposition of nuclear power-generated fuel. Such initiatives are integral to President Biden's ambitious targets of achieving a 100% clean electric grid by 2035 and establishing a net-zero economy by 2050.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm emphasized the importance of considering community interests and involving them in the decision-making process from the outset. "As the DOE conscientiously manages the nation's spent nuclear fuel, we must prioritize the well-being of communities during the siting process," Secretary Granholm stated. This funding will enable the DOE to engage communities across the country, foster transparency, address queries and concerns, and cultivate amicable relationships even before any physical presence.

Consent-based siting represents a people-centric approach to facility siting, focusing on the needs and concerns of communities while promoting equity and environmental justice. The process entails active community participation in a series of phases and steps, collaboratively working with the Department to evaluate the compatibility of hosting a facility for managing spent nuclear fuel with their goals. The process encompasses three stages: planning and capacity building, site screening and assessment, and negotiation and implementation.

Currently, the DOE is in the initial stage and, in alignment with that, is not actively seeking volunteer communities to host Federal consolidated interim storage facilities under this funding opportunity.

The DOE has chosen 13 awardees, encompassing diverse geographical and institutional backgrounds. These awardees, hailing from 12 states and the District of Columbia, will collaborate with additional partners and communities, expanding the influence of these grants and fostering discussions surrounding consolidated interim storage of spent nuclear fuel.

Each awardee will represent a consent-based siting consortium, collectively aiding the Department in organizing engagement activities and promoting dialogue. They will spearhead inclusive community and stakeholder engagement efforts, gathering public feedback to refine the DOE's consent-based siting process, and devising strategies that encourage mutual learning. Throughout this collaborative process, the DOE and the consent-based siting consortia will collaborate to integrate principles of equity and environmental justice into the engagement processes.

The project teams will each receive approximately $2 million, ensuring a diverse representation of organizations. The DOE hopes that this diverse makeup will encompass a broad spectrum of perspectives and approaches, enriching the overall outcomes of the initiatives.

 The project teams that will receive awards are:

  • American Nuclear Society (IL) as the lead, with South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation (SC), Northern Arizona University (AZ), University of New Mexico (NM), and South Carolina State University (SC) as partners.
  • Arizona State University (AZ) 
  • Boise State University (ID) as the lead, with the National Tribal Energy Association, Arizona State (AZ), Colorado State (CO), Idaho State (ID), Montana State (MT), University of Idaho (ID), University of Wyoming (WY), and University of Michigan (MI) as partners.
  • Clemson University (SC) as the lead, with South Carolina Universities Research and Education Foundation (SC) as partner.
  • Energy Communities Alliance (DC) as the lead, with Environmental Council of the States (DC), DOE’s State and Tribal Government Working Group, National Association of Attorneys General (DC), National Conference of State Legislatures (DC), and National Governors Association (DC) as partners. 
  • Good Energy Collective (CA) as the lead, with the University of Notre Dame (IN) as partner.
  • Holtec International (NJ) as the lead, with University of Florida (FL), McMahon Communications (MA), Agenda Global (DC), American Nuclear Society (IL), and Nuclear Energy Institute (DC) as partners.
  • Keystone Policy Center (CO) as the lead, with Social and Environmental Research Institute, GDFWatch (UK), and the National Association of Regional Councils (DC) as partners.
  • Missouri University of Science & Technology (MO) as the lead, with University of Missouri - Columbia (MO), University of Illinois (IL), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MA), University of Nevada (NV), Taylor Geospatial Institute (MO), and St. Louis University (MO) as partners.
  • North Carolina State University (NC) as the lead, with the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe of San Luis Obispo County and Region (CA), Mothers for Nuclear (CA), and the Tribal Consent Based Coalition - Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant (CA) as partners.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY) as the lead, with Schenectady Foundation (NY) and Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Indians (WI) as partners.
  • Southwest Research Institute (TX) as the lead, with Deep Isolation (CA), Westra Consulting (NE), Community Transition Planning (MI), and Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal Nation (MN) as partners.
  • Vanderbilt University (TN) as the lead, with Rutgers University (NJ) and Oregon State University (OR) as partners. 

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  • Anonymous

    What about Yucca Mountain?

  • Anonymous

    Why not just spend all this money to make Yucca Mountain viable.

  • Anonymous

    President (ahem) Biden's ambitious initiatives for 'clean energy' and 'net zero' by 2035????  Those at the 'Office of Nuclear Energy' that penned this ridiculous article surely can't be serious or even living somewhere on planet Earth.  The 'project teams' receiving these millions of dollars of hard earned taxpayer money should be ashamed to be part and parcel to this energy scam.  Never have so few screwed-up so much in such a short period of time.  This publication has always been accurate and forward looking.......what is going on now?