Applied Research Projects

Nuclear Waste Policy and Law

Investigators: Richard Stewart and Jane Stewart (NYU).

Project Objectives:
To provide DOE with analysis and options for addressing the legal, regulatory, and institutional challenges and opportunities presented by: reclassification of reprocessing and other wastes (such as GTCC wastes) for which DOE is currently or may in the future become responsible; potential storage of SNF at DOE legacy waste sites; and potential development of advanced fuel cycle, renewable energy, and other energy park/environmental research facilities at DOE legacy waste sites.

Relevance and Impact to DOE:
It is nearly self-evident that a more certain path forward is needed for waste disposition and post-cleanup land use. DOE is taking steps to dispose of certain reprocessing wastes at SRS as LLW, but there are legal risks to doing so at other sites and legal quandaries at all sites for other wastes. Legal issues associated with both storage and disposal of wastes, as well as land use approaches as DOE-EM sites reduce footprint, are shaped by multiple laws governing nuclear waste classification, storage, and disposition. Adoption of a risk/hazard-informed and performance-based approach to waste classification/regulation would significantly reduce the challenges DOE faces in dealing with legacy wastes in a cost-effective and timely manner. A new (re)classification approach would better enable DOE to deal with new waste streams created from advanced fuel cycle facilities. Further, DOE may well be tasked to store civilian SNF and/or dispose of GTCC wastes at legacy waste sites and/or host advanced fuel cycle and renewable “energy park” facilities.

These new missions would pose major legal, regulatory, land use and operational issues for DOE, including impacts on its management and disposition of legacy wastes. They raise, among other matters, questions of DOE’s legal authority to undertake such activities, scope of NRC regulatory authority over wastes/activities at DOE sites, compatibility with existing regulatory requirements including tripartite agreements and native rights, and public confidence and acceptance.

Further, disposing SNF and /or GTCC wastes would present significant financial issues, including for legacy waste management, which could be addressed through new financing mechanisms including potential new fund(s) created through congressional resolution of federal government SNF disposition liabilities. These various issues intersect and are highly complex. A systematic analysis of and conceptual framework for the legal, regulatory, and institutional issues presented would enhance DOE’s capacity to address these challenges.

Regional Economic Impacts of EM Funding Choices

Investigators: Henry Mayer (PI), Michael Greenberg (co-PI), Mike Lahr, Nancy Mantell, and a graduate student (Rutgers)

Project Objectives:
Assess the life cycle costs versus benefits of selected DOE operations, specifically D&D and specifically at Hanford to illustrate the potential benefit of life cycle cost analysis to DOE-EM.

Relevance and Impact to DOE:
Some EM sites have closed where the regional impacts were, for a variety of reasons, modest. But the recent economic downturn and the ARRA response has resulted in totally unprecedented changes and swings in the size of ongoing EM funding. EM managers and stakeholders need to understand more about those impacts, and CRESP’s evolved tools can help.

Among the impacts are to:

  1. help DOE–EM assess late-stage use of ARRA funding for internal decisions and to clarify effects for EM efficiency to all stakeholders (including appropriators);
  2. assess implications for building short- and long-term workforce capabilities and regional of alternatives for both regular and ARRA investment patterns; and
  3. better assess and communicate to site publics the way in which EM funding patterns will affect regional economic factors.
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