November 30, 2021

Funding Secured by Rep. Mike Levin Advances Department of Energy Move Towards Addressing Nation’s Spent Nuclear Fuel Challenge

San Onofre and other spent fuel sites could benefit from restart of consent-based siting program

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a move towards addressing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel using funding secured by U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Spent Nuclear Fuel Solutions Caucus. DOE issued a request for information to restart the consent-based siting process for locations that could store the spent fuel currently distributed across the country at nuclear plants like the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Rep. Levin secured $20 million for this program in the government funding legislation signed into law at the end of 2020.

“I applaud the Department of Energy for today’s long-awaited announcement that takes another step towards removing the spent fuel stored on the beach at San Onofre,” said Rep. Levin. “My colleagues and I worked hard to secure the funding that made it possible to restart DOE’s consent-based siting program for spent fuel. The federal government has a responsibility to address the nation’s spent nuclear fuel challenge, but history has shown us that without the consent of the communities that will be involved with the solutions, we are unlikely to succeed. Today’s announcement shows that we can address those issues directly and correct the mistakes that have led us to the current nationwide spent fuel impasse.”

According to DOE, the information gathered by its request for information will be used to further develop the department’s consent-based siting process and overall waste management strategy in an equitable way. It begins to fulfill DOE’s statutory obligation to manage the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. In its announcement, DOE stated that it is “committed to a consent-based siting approach that makes communities and people central in the process to give the nation its best chance at success in solving the nation’s decades-long stalemate over how to effectively manage our spent nuclear fuel.”

In March 2020, Rep. Levin called on the House Appropriations Committee to fund a consolidated interim storage program at the Department of Energy. Further, the letter stated that DOE’s program should initially focus on accepting fuel from closed nuclear plants while accounting for site-specific environmental factors. Both of these criteria favor removing fuel from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and align with Rep. Levin’s Spent Fuel Prioritization Act. In December 2020, Rep. Levin voted for bipartisan government funding legislation that included the $20 million for the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel, as was requested in Rep. Levin’s letter. That legislation was subsequently signed into law, and funding under the law enabled today’s announcement by DOE.