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Transporting and Storing High-Level Nuclear Waste in the U.S.—Insights from a Mathematical Model

1
TU Berlin, Workgroup for Economic and Infrastructure Policy, 10623 Berlin, Germany
2
DIW Berlin, Energy, Transport, and Environment, 10117 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(12), 2437; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9122437
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 4 June 2019 / Accepted: 5 June 2019 / Published: 14 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hybrid Nuclear-Renewable Energy Systems)
The nuclear industry in the United States of America has accumulated about 70,000 metric tons of high-level nuclear waste over the past decades; at present, this waste is temporarily stored close to the nuclear power plants. The industry and the Department of Energy are now facing two related challenges: (i) will a permanent geological repository, e.g., Yucca Mountain, become available in the future, and if yes, when?; (ii) should the high-level waste be transported to interim storage facilities in the meantime, which may be safer and more cost economic? This paper presents a mathematical transportation model that evaluates the economic challenges and costs associated with different scenarios regarding the opening of a long-term geological repository. The model results suggest that any further delay in opening a long-term storage increases cost and consolidated interim storage facilities should be built now. We show that Yucca Mountain’s capacity is insufficient and additional storage is necessary. A sensitivity analysis for the reprocessing of high-level waste finds this uneconomic in all cases. This paper thus emphasizes the urgency of dealing with the high-level nuclear waste and informs the debate between the nuclear industry and policymakers on the basis of objective data and quantitative analysis. View Full-Text
Keywords: nuclear waste disposal policy; transportation modeling; interim storage; United States of America; nuclear energy; energy policy nuclear waste disposal policy; transportation modeling; interim storage; United States of America; nuclear energy; energy policy
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Wegel, S.; Czempinski, V.; Oei, P.-Y.; Wealer, B. Transporting and Storing High-Level Nuclear Waste in the U.S.—Insights from a Mathematical Model. Appl. Sci. 2019, 9, 2437.

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