November 03, 2022

Rep. Mike Levin Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Safety Standards for Nuclear Waste Canisters

Oceanside, CA – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin introduced the 100 Year Canister Life Act to require nuclear waste canisters to have a design life of at least 100 years.

Under current Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations, applicants are only required to certify the safety of spent nuclear fuel canisters for a proposed term of up to 40 years. This legislation would more than double the design life requirement, ensuring spent nuclear fuel remains safe within its canister as the nation continues to develop long-term solutions to spent fuel storage issues.

“Safety should always be the top priority when it comes to managing nuclear waste,” said Rep. Mike Levin. “It is clear that nuclear waste canisters should be certified to safely store spent nuclear fuel for at least 100 years so that we can have the peace of mind that all canisters, both at San Onofre and across the country, remain safe during continued on-site storage and during the transportation process to a future storage site. As we work to increase the life of these canisters and ensure their long-term safety, I will continue to focus on making progress to move the nuclear waste away from our region as quickly and safely as possible.”

One of Representative Levin’s first actions as a Member of Congress was to launch a task force made up of local stakeholders and experts to address the safety challenges at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) and formulate federal policy recommendations to address the waste. At the task force’s recommendation , Rep. Levin committed to introducing legislation to increase the life span of spent nuclear fuel canisters, both for storage until a more permanent solution to move the waste was achieved and for eventual transportation. The task force report is available here.

Rep. Levin also secured $40 million for the Department of Energy (DOE) to restart the process to establish a federal consolidated interim storage location for spent nuclear fuel. That funding enabled the DOE to restart the consent-based siting process last November. In September 2022, the Department of Energy announced it was awarding $16 million Rep. Levin helped secure to communities that may be willing to host spent nuclear fuel, including the waste at San Onofre. At least six communities will receive funding to facilitate information gathering and public engagement on the potential to host spent nuclear fuel.

Rep. Levin also reintroduced his Increasing Nuclear Safety Protocols for Extended Canister Transfers (INSPECT) Act to require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to keep a resident inspector at decommissioning nuclear power plants until all spent fuel is transferred from its spent fuel pools to canisters.

Rep. Levin is a founding co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Spent Nuclear Fuel Solutions Caucus, which works to address the challenges associated with stranded commercial spent fuel across the country.