Sam Brinton serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition (NE-8). In this role, Sam leads NE-8 and oversees its programs including the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Science and Technology and the Office of Integrated Waste Management. NE-8 manages ongoing research and development related to long-term disposition of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. Current priorities for Sam’s office include evaluating the feasibility of the direct disposal of dual-purpose casks; implementing high burn-up, large scale, long-term, dry storage cask research; and developing a consent-based siting process for consolidated, federal interim storage of spent nuclear fuel.
Sam brings a wealth of experience to this role, having previously served as the first employee of the country's first and only nuclear waste management and disposal start-up company, as well as leading one of the first major national consensus reports on the topic of consent-based siting at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Sam has also worked for think tanks such as the Breakthrough Institute, Clean Air Task Force, and Third Way. Sam holds dual graduate degrees in nuclear science and engineering as well as the Technology Policy Program from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and undergraduate degrees in mechanical engineering with a nuclear engineering focus and vocal music performance from Kansas State University. Sam is also a well-known advocate for LGBTQ youth and helped to secure protections against the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy in more than half of the country. They identify as gender-fluid and use the pronouns they, them, and theirs.
After nearly a decade of experience in nuclear policy formation and implementation, Sam is excited to bring their knowledge and passion for nuclear waste as a self-proclaimed #NuclearNerd to the Department of Energy.