Press Release

Can Nuclear Waste Management Be Commercially Viable?


American Academy of Arts and Sciences Report Includes a Roadmap for Storing Spent Nuclear Fuel

CAMBRIDGE, MA | June 12, 2017 — Under what conditions can nuclear waste management be both commercially viable and conducted in accordance with strict safety, security, and nonproliferation standards? What are the domestic and international implications of nuclear waste management as a business?

Questions about how to handle nuclear waste have long eluded consensus answers. Rather they have generated social objections, political problems, and economic concerns, especially in countries that have not been able to identify viable solutions to their highly radioactive used fuel.

In what ways should countries be incentivized to articulate and identify timely solutions to their nuclear waste? Is it possible to change the narrative about nuclear waste from a burden to a possibly profitable commercial enterprise?

The American Academy has been addressing this issue with a long-term project on the Global Nuclear Future. This initiative is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, and multinational effort to engage key experts and constituencies to identify regulatory and governance strategies for the peaceful use of nuclear power. The project articulates, distills, and promotes best practices to minimize security, safety, and proliferation concerns associated with the spread of nuclear energy.

The initiative’s most recent publication, Multinational Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel and Other High-Level Nuclear Waste: A Roadmap for Moving Forward, offers some important findings for nuclear fuel legacy countries and nuclear newcomers. The roadmap, authored by Robert D. Sloan, former Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Entergy, identifies the legal and governance pathway to establish multilateral commercial interim storage.

This publication is the third in the Global Nuclear Future Initiative’s series on the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle.
The first paper in the series, The Back-End of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: An Innovative Storage Concept, by Stephen M. Goldberg, Robert Rosner, and James P. Malone, outlines the idea for the establishment of a multilateral interim storage facility that may be run as a commercial entity, allowing the host country to reap significant economic benefits from hosting such a facility.

The second paper, The Back-End of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Establishing a Viable Roadmap for a Multilateral Interim Storage Facility, includes an essay by James P. Malone on the business strategy that a country would need to develop in order to host a multilateral interim storage facility and an essay by Lenka Kollar on spent fuel governance, including a series of recommendations on managing spent fuel.

The FY2018 budget proposal by the Trump administration includes $120 million to restart the Yucca Mountain repository, and there is bipartisan support for legislation such as the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA). The problem of storing nuclear fuel is receiving renewed attention. This publication from the American Academy offers important guidelines to address the challenges of managing the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle and, together with the two preceding publications in the series, seeks to change the narrative about nuclear waste and its disposal.

To download a copy of Multinational Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel and Other High-Level Nuclear Waste: A Roadmap for Moving Forward, please visit

The Global Nuclear Future Initiative is supported by grants from Carnegie Corporation of New York and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.



About the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world. Current Academy research focuses on higher education, the humanities, and the arts; science and technology policy; global security and international affairs; and American institutions and the public good. The Academy’s work is advanced by its elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs from around the world.







Alison Franklin
American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Twitter: @americanacad







Global Nuclear Future

Steven E. Miller, Robert Rosner, and Scott D. Sagan