Consent-Based Siting

Management of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste is the Department of Energy’s responsibility. This includes finding sites to store and dispose of the spent nuclear fuel. DOE is committed to a consent-based approach to siting and a waste management system that enables broad participation and centers equity and environmental justice. We believe that a consent-based approach, driven by community well-being and community needs, is both the right thing to do and our best chance for success.

What is consent-based siting? 

Consent-based siting is an approach to siting facilities that focuses on the needs and concerns of people and communities. Communities participate in the siting process by working carefully through a series of phases and steps with the Department (as the implementing organization). Each step and phase helps a community determine whether and how hosting a facility to manage spent nuclear fuel is aligned to the community’s goals. By its nature, a consent-based siting process must be flexible, adaptive, and responsive to community concerns. Thus, the phases and steps are intended to serve as a guide, not a prescriptive set of instructions. Working through the consent-based siting process collaboratively builds a mutual trust relationship between DOE and a potential host community. Potential outcomes from the consent-based siting process could include either a negotiated consent agreement or a determination that after exploring the option in good faith, the community is not, in fact, interested in serving as a host. Both are successful outcomes. 

Request for Information

On December 1, 2021, DOE issued a request for information (RFI) in the Federal Register on using consent-based siting to identify sites for interim storage of spent nuclear fuel. We asked the public for feedback on:

  • The consent-based siting process itself
  • Removing barriers for meaningful participation, especially for groups and communities who have not historically been well-represented in these conversations
  • The role of interim storage as a part of the nation’s waste management system

We received 220 responses to the RFI. Our team is currently hard at work analyzing the comments and we plan to issue a report of our findings in the coming months. In the meantime, you can view the responses in their entirety.

Consent-based siting must be driven by communities and done in close collaboration with the public, interested groups, and governments at the Tribal, State, and local levels. This RFI is a first step in that direction. We hope you will consider sharing your feedback with us as we work to manage the nation’s spent nuclear fuel in a way that puts people and communities first.

Webinar

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Dr. Kathryn Huff, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy, explains consent-based siting process and the recently distributed request for information.
Office of Nuclear Energy

Stay in Touch

Please reach out to us at consentbasedsiting@hq.doe.gov or 301-903-3301.