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Question: Who pays for the cost of used fuel storage and disposal?


Congress passed a law in 1982 directing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to build and operate a repository for the disposal of used nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste. Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, Congress set a 1998 deadline for DOE to begin to dispose of the used nuclear fuel.  However, due to significant delay in the Energy Department’s program, the 1998 deadline is long past due and no fuel has been moved from nuclear energy facilities

To fund the federal program, the 1982 legislation established the Nuclear Waste Fund. Beginning in 1983, consumers of electricity produced at nuclear energy facilities have paid a tax of one-tenth of a cent for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced into that fund. Commitments to the Nuclear Waste Fund, including interest, total more than $35 billion.

DOE has contracts in place with electric utilities to accept the used nuclear fuel rods, but since a high-level waste repository is not available, DOE has been in partial breach of contract and several utilities have successfully sued DOE to recover the costs associated with temporary storage at nuclear facilities.

See NEI’s main website for more information about used fuel management.

Learn more about nuclear energy and related topics in NEI’s “Ask an Expert” section.

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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First