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Table: Waste Generated via Relicensing

Marks the Spot: Table: Waste Generated via Relicensing

October 20, 2004

Congressional approval of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump led to a surge in nuclear power plant relicensing. This increase in the rate of relicensing puts pressure on the DOE to bring Yucca Mountain on-line because these extended operating licenses will generate thousands of metric tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste that must be stored at the power plants, if it is not shipped to Nevada.

"Under intense questioning from Nevada's two senators, [Secretary of Energy] Abraham conceded that the Yucca Mountain repository as currently envisioned could handle only a fraction of the waste expected to be generated by commercial power plants and the government in the coming decade."

—Associated Press, Friday, May 17, 2002

On average, the relicensed reactors generate more than 100 pounds of lethal nuclear waste each day, or about 17 metric tons per reactor per year. This translates into 8,900 metric tons of highly radioactive spent fuel generated by the 26 reactors relicensed to date at 15 power plants across the country.

As currently authorized, Yucca Mountain will not be able to accept the waste generated by these license extensions. To send this additional waste to Nevada, the capacity of Yucca Mountain must be expanded. While it is plausible that the capacity of Yucca Mountain will be increased to accommodate this waste, it is also possible that it will not be. Until a decision is made either way, the thousands more metric tons of high-level nuclear waste generated at these relicensed reactors will be stored on site at nuclear power plants.

Waste from 18 reactors with pending license extension applications at 9 additional power plants would add another 6,600 metric tons of waste to be secured and ultimately disposed.

Relicensing Will Leave Hundreds of Metric Tons of Highly Radioactive Nuclear Waste Stranded at Power Plants

The power plants with the most nuclear waste on site due to license extensions are McGuire in North Carolina, Catawba in South Carolina, and Edwin Hatch in Georgia, with 1,416, 1,409 and 1,103 metric tons of waste respectively left on site at the end of their operating life. The states with the most nuclear waste generated as a result of relicensing are South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida.

Nuclear Plants Where Reactor Licenses Have Been Extended

Nuclear Plant State Number of Reactors Waste on-site now
(metric tons)
Waste generated from relicensing
(metric tons)
Waste on-site after license extension expires
(metric tons)
McGuire NC 2 1,122 906 1,416
Catawba SC 2 849 790 1,409
Edwin I. Hatch GA 2 1,144 865 1,103
Oconee SC 3 1,529 959 1,095
North Anna VA 2 915 766 1,082
Peach Bottom PA 2 1,271 806 927
Calvert Cliffs MD 2 923 626 767
St. Lucie FL 2 837 524 746
Surry VA 2 960 668 726
Turkey Point FL 2 874 573 623
Summer SC 1 394 376 593
Arkansas Nuclear One * AR 1 905 291 451
H. B. Robinson SC 1 279 299 291
Fort Calhoun NE 1 310 196 221
Ginna NY 1 383 225 214
Total 8,870 11,663

* The 905 metric tons currently on site include the waste generated by both of Arkansas Nuclear One's reactors. The 291 metric tons of waste generated from relicensing include waste generated only from the one reactor that has been relicensed. The 451 metric tons of waste on-site after the license extension expires does not include waste generated by the second reactor's pending relicense period.

Nuclear Plants With Reactor License Extensions Pending

Nuclear Plant State Number of Reactors Waste on-site now
(metric tons)
Waste generated from relicensing
(metric tons)
Waste on-site after license extension expires
(metric tons)
Browns Ferry AL 3 1,454 1,365 1,442
Millstone CT 2 1,380 936 1,393
D. C. Cook MI 2 1,146 820 1,107
Joseph M. Farley AL 2 942 663 936
James FitzPatrick/Nine Mile Point NY 2 1,405 775 746
Arkansas Nuclear One * AR 1 905 291 743
Dresden IL 2 1,889 738 719
Quad Cities IL 2 1,074 580 638
Point Beach WI 2 724 434 461
Total 6,601 8,184


* The 905 metric tons currently on-site include the waste generated by both of Arkansas Nuclear One's reactors. The 291 metric tons of waste generated from relicensing include waste generated only from the one reactor that has a pending application for relicensing, not the reactor that has already been relicensed. The 743 metric tons of waste left on-site after the license extension expires include waste generated by both the reactor that has already been relicensed and the reactor with a pending application to be relicensed.

Source: EWG Action Fund analysis of the DOE Yucca EIS, Appendix A. "Currently on-site" is calculated by taking DOE's figure for actual waste on-site in 1995 and adding the amount of waste DOE reports will be generated by each reactor between 1996 and 2011. "Current license waste generated" is calculated by taking each plant's actual waste on-site in 1995 and adding the following product: the plant's yearly rate of waste generation from 1996 to 2011, as reported by DOE, multiplied by the the number of years the plant will operate past 1995 under its current license. "License extension waste generated" adds "current license waste generated" to the product of waste generated per year and the number of years for which the plant has been, or will be, relicensed.