Experts to tell NRC: Hidden Costs of Waste Storage & Disposal Make Nuclear Power Less Attractive than Wind, Solar and Energy Efficiency

Guest Blog | December 18, 2013 | Press Releases

Do High Costs of Nuclear Now Make Licensing and Re-Licensing Indefensible in Terms of the Economics? Comments to NRC From Economist Mark Cooper State Federal Agency Must Consider Full Cost of Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – NEWS ADVISORY – The case for continued licensing of nuclear reactors in the United States will be almost impossible to make if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) starts factoring in the enormous and rapidly rising cost of nuclear reactor waste storage and disposal, according to comments that will be filed Thursday (December 19, 2013) at the NRC by economist Mark Cooper, the author of a major summer 2013 report detailing the three dozen operating U.S. nuclear reactors most at-risk of being shuttered due to economic and related factors.


Cooper and attorney Diane Curran will hold a phone-based news conference at 11 a.m. EST Thursday, Dec 19.


Friday is the NRC deadline for comments in the wake of a 2012 U.S. Court of Appeals decision that resulted in suspension of all U.S. reactor licensing and re-licensing decisions until NRC completed a study of the environmental impacts of its failure to site a repository for disposal of spent reactor fuel. The federal government estimates that just over 141,000 metric tons of spent fuel either already has or will be produced under existing reactor licenses and reactors under construction. Meanwhile, after decades of trying to site a repository, Yucca Mountain has been cancelled and no other repository has been proposed.


In his declaration to the NRC, Cooper calculates for the first time the full price tag per megawatt hour of nuclear power in terms of the cost and risks of storing and disposing of the radioactive waste from reactors. Cooper argues that the “hidden” cost, which is rapidly rising, is now so massive that the NRC cannot possibly ignore it when conducting its own economic analysis about the true cost of nuclear power.


On behalf of 30 environmental organizations across the U.S., Curran will submit Cooper’s declaration to the NRC, along with other criticisms of the NRC’s Environmental Impact Statement for failure to account for the costs of spent fuel storage and disposal in reactor licensing decisions. The groups contend that NRC must continue the current moratorium on reactor licensing and re-licensing until it completes a study that accounts for the costs and environmental impacts of managing spent fuel.


News event speakers will be:

  • Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis, Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School, and author of “Renaissance in Reverse: Competition Pushes Aging U.S. Nuclear Reactors to the Brink of Economic Abandonment” (2013) and “Policy Challenges of Nuclear Reactor Construction, Cost Escalation and Crowding Out Alternatives” (2009); and
  • Diane Curran, attorney, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, L.L.P. Curran will discuss her clients’ concerns about the NRC’s environmental analysis of spent fuel storage and disposal impacts.


TO PARTICIPATE: You can participate in the live, phone-based news conference (with full, two-way Q&A) at 11 a.m. EST on December 19, 2013 by dialing 1 (800) 860-2442. Ask for the “nuclear waste cost analysis” news event.


CAN’T PARTICIPATE?: A streaming audio replay of a related news event will be available on the Web at as of 3 p.m. EST on December 19, 2013.


MEDIA CONTACT: Ailis Aaron Wolf, (703) 276-3265 or [email protected].