Will MOU spur shipments of U-233 waste to Nevada?

nnssOver the holidays, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a Memorandum of Understanding that “formalizes” a working group that’s discussing multiple issues — including DOE’s disposal plan for uranium wastes that are fissionable and highly radioactive. Those nuclear materials, once associated with development of Uranium-233 as reactor fuel, are currently housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

DOE’s plan to ship those wastes westward for disposal at the Nevada National Security Site (formerly known as the Nevada Test Site) has been on hold for a couple of years because of Nevada’s continuing concerns and objections to the waste-burial proposal.

The Dec. 22 MOU outlines a number of general areas of mutual interest, including the possibility of DOE locating some new missions at the agency’s Nevada reservation. Whether that’s supposed to be an incentive for Nevada to ease its opposition to the waste-disposal plan isn’t clear.

DOE’s Office of Environmental Management in Oak Ridge hasn’t had much to say in recent months about the timetable for getting rid of the so-called CEUSP (Consolidated Edison Uranium Solidification Project) materials stored in ORNL’s aged Building 3019.

Here’s an excerpt from the generally worded agreement:

“The MOU supports the continuation of a variety of activities between Nevada and DOE, including the discussion of various matters, such as waste streams, waste classification, waste acceptance criteria, public safety and environmental stewardship, public outreach and education, and future missions at the NNSS. The MOU is premised on the principles of proactive and candid communication, in order to promote a collaborative working relationship between the Parties.”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the new agreement gives the state of Nevada a stronger voice in DOE’s waste shipments to the western state.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.