Skip to main content

EPRI Review of Geologic Disposal for Used Fuel and High Level Radioactive Waste: Volume IV - Lessons Learned

Electric Power Research Institute
Publication Date


The effective termination of the Yucca Mountain program by the U.S. Administration in 2009 has further delayed the construction and operation of a permanent disposal facility for used fuel and high level radioactive waste (HLW) in the United States. In concert with this decision, the President directed the Energy Secretary to establish the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future to review and provide recommendations on options for managing used fuel and HLW. EPRI is uniquely positioned to provide an independent scientific and technical perspective on used fuel and HLW management as well as related impacts of alternate nuclear fuel cycles.
While there are, in fact, numerous options for managing the wastes associated with the nuclear fuel cycle, all waste management and fuel cycle alternatives eventually require permanent disposal for some form and amount of long-lived radioactive material. The disposal of used fuel and HLW is often mischaracterized as an intractable problem. To the contrary, there exists today an international consensus on the appropriateness and capability of deep geologic disposal to provide long-term isolation of used fuel and HLW from the biosphere. This consensus has emerged from more than five decades of scientific study and peer-review, technical and regulatory developments, and site selection and characterization. This report, Lessons Learned, is the final volume of a four-volume series, entitled EPRI Review of Geologic Disposal for Used Fuel and High Level Radioactive Waste, which surveys and evaluates past, present, and planned disposal options gleaned from a half-century of geologic disposal efforts in the United States and abroad. EPRI's review of technical and nontechnical elements deemed critical for successful implementation of a repository program has identified a number of lessons learned in the following areas: 1) laws, regulations, and institutional and financial arrangements; 2) site screening, selection, and characterization; 3) repository design concepts; 4) independent peer review and advisory bodies; and 5) stakeholder and public involvement.