Skip to main content
Friday, March 25, 2011 - 11:41am

Echols: Privatize Nuclear Waste Disposal

Updated: 3 years ago.
The Savannah River Site is the temporary storage site for more than 14 tons of spent nuclear fuel from the nation's nuclear reactors. PSC freshman Tim Echols says the federal government doesn't have a long term plan for disposing of the waste and that they should turn over the job to the private sector. (Photo courtesy DOE)

As Japan struggles to contain radiation at its damaged nuclear reactors, Georgia’s newest Public Service Commission member wants to make sure that country's problems don't slow America’s nuclear renaissance.

Tim Echols says the federal government has neglected the tons of spent reactor fuel stored at U.S. nuclear plants.

Among them are Plant Vogtle and Savannah River Site near Augusta.

Facilities are holding on to their waste because the Obama Administration scrapped plans to store spent fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

The freshman PSC commissioner wants to repurpose a fee ratepayers currently pay the government to store the waste. Instead, he wants utilities to use the funds to reprocess spent fuel.

"There’s enough energy left in the 60,000 tons of fuel that we’ve used so far to power every home in America for 12 years," says Echols. "This is a lot of energy and it needs to be captured."

Echols says money saved by reprocessing the fuel would mean lower bills for customers.

Many environmentalists say it only creates more nuclear waste.