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.