AN INDEPENDENT COST ASSESSMENT OF THE NATION'S HIGH-LEVEL NUCLEAR WASTE PROGRAM

 
February
1998

By          
 
PLANNING INFORMATION CORPORATION
THOMPSON PROFESSIONAL GROUP
DECISION RESEARCH INSTITUTE

 

PREFACE


In 1996, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to prepare, by late 1998, a "Viability Assessment" as a tool for managing and making decision about the federal high-level radioactive waste program, in particular the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. One component of the Viability Assessment was to be an assessment of the total cost of the federal program, something that has been and continues to be plagued by great uncertainty due to the changing and evolving nature of the program since 1983.

In order to effectively evaluate the accuracy and appropriateness of the Viability Assessment's findings, the State of Nevada commissioned an independent study of likely costs associated with accepting spent fuel and high-level radioactive wastes at generator sites, transporting the material to Nevada, and ultimately disposing of it in a repository. The report which follows grew out of this effort. However, as the project progressed, it became apparent that the data and findings have applicability and importance far beyond confines of DOE's Viability Assessment.

To undertake this project, it was necessary to make determinations about what the reference waste management system would consist of and how it will operate. Toward that end, the waste management system prescribed in pending congressional legislation was used as the report's guiding framework. Consequently, the assumptions in this independent cost assessment report reflect the legislation's previsions regarding schedules and time frames, DOE responsibility for at-reactor storage pending shipment, waste acceptance activities, transportation planning and emergency preparedness, shipping assumptions and intermodal transportation, centralized interim storage, repository disposal and other related aspects of the system

To assure that the report's contents and findings would be as accurate and objective as possible, a team of independent consultants was employed to gather information, analyze the data, and develop the ultimate cost conclusions. The firm of KPMG Peat Marwick was commissioned to provide expert peer review for the effort.

The result of this extraordinary independent undertaking is a comprehensive and timely evaluation of the real costs to the nation of the federal high-level nuclear waste program - not just the Yucca Mountain repository component - and the potential liability the country will incur as that program moves forward


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