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    US-Korea Nuclear Roundtable
    US and International Waste Management Efforts: Status and Prospects
    December 12, 2013

    As a result of the political impasse over Yucca Mountain, US nuclear waste management strategy has largely been driven by the government’s reaction to the recommendations posed by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC). Although the current administration has agreed in principle with the BRC’s recommendations and the US Department of Energy formally responded to the BRC through a report of its own in January 2013, the need for Congressional action on many of the immediate term items—particularly the issues of funding, establishment of an independent waste management office, and consolidated interim storage—have created an obstacle towards practical implementation. Although some within the US government maintain that Yucca Mountain can be revived, a protracted and bitter conflict over the Yucca issue is virtually inevitable regardless of the final outcome. Moreover, there has been some uncertainty over what constitutes “consent-based” siting. The aforementioned difficulties threaten to further impede what is already a costly and lengthy process, a worrying sign given trends in other countries. Public opposition has been a major barrier to nuclear waste management programs, most recently in the UK and France, and an examination of ongoing international efforts seems to suggest that host community approval is often fleeting.