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

Aufsätze referiert extern - Web of Science

Sebastian Wegel, Victoria Czempinski, Pao-Yu Oei, Ben Wealer

In: Applied Sciences 9 (2019), 12, 2437, 23 S.


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.

Pao-Yu Oei

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter in der Abteilung Energie, Verkehr, Umwelt

Keywords: nuclear waste disposal policy; transportation modeling; interim storage; United States of America; nuclear energy; energy policy
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