By John Kotek
Former Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy
Today, in downtown Chicago, the Department of Energy is hosting the first of eight public meetings around the country on the Department’s consent-based siting initiative for facilities needed to manage our nation’s nuclear waste. We hope to hear from the public, communities, states, Tribal governments, and others on what matters to them as the Department moves forward in developing a consent-based process for siting facilities to store, transport, and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.
This first meeting, at the University of Chicago from 12 noon to 6:00 p.m. (CDT), will include presentations from NE officials as well as a panel session with several experts providing diverse perspectives on the main issues that need to be resolved in the design of a consent-based process. I plan to discuss the nuclear energy and national defense activities which have brought us to this point as well as describe the Department’s vision for an integrated waste management system and need for a consent-based approach to siting.
Of course, meeting attendees will have plenty of opportunities to ask questions to the Department and panelists as well as make statements at the end of the meeting. In addition, DOE has published an Invitation for Public Comment in the Federal Register. The input provided through this notice and the eight public meetings we have scheduled will inform the design of a consent-based siting process, which will in turn serve as a framework for engaging with potential host communities in the future. Ultimately, DOE aims to work collaboratively with the public and interested communities to begin identifying potential partners in managing the nation’s nuclear waste.
Our second meeting will be in Atlanta on April 11, with six more to follow this year in Boise, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, Sacramento, and Tempe. I’m excited about the step forward that NE is taking today, and I’m eager to hear from the public and stakeholders on this issue that is important to all of us.