What is Consent-Based Siting?

The Department of Energy is ultimately responsible for the management of the nation's nuclear waste. 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.

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 225 responses to the RFI, which you can view in their entirety. We also issued a report of our findings and analysis on the extensive feedback we received.

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. The RFI and the analysis of public comment were early steps 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.