Skip to main content

Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management

Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management


Humans have been using nuclear materials for nearly 50 years. Nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons account for the largest volume of these materials, while industrial, medical, and research applications account for smaller volumes. One of the largest single problems involved with the use of nuclear materials is the volume of wastes resulting from these applications. By one estimate, 8,0009,000 metric tons (8,8169,918 tons) of high-level radioactive wastes alone are produced in the United States every year. It is something of a surprise, therefore, to learn that as late as 1982, the United States had no plan for disposing of the radioactive wastes produced by its commercial, industrial, research, and defense operations.

In that year, the United States Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act establishing national policy for the disposal of radioactive waste . Responsibility for the implementation of this policy was assigned to the U.S. Department of Energy through the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM). OCRWM manages federal programs for recommending, constructing, and operating repositories for the disposal of high-level radioactive wastes and spent nuclear fuel. It is also responsible for arranging for the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel and for research, development, and demonstration of techniques for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.

In addition, OCRWM oversees the Nuclear Waste Fund, also established by the 1982 act. The fund was established to enable the federal government to recover all costs of developing a disposal system and of disposing of high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel. It is paid for by companies that produce nuclear power , power consumers, and those involved in the use of nuclear materials for defense purposes.

OCRWM has published a number of short pamphlets dealing with the problem of waste disposal. They cover topics such as "Nuclear Waste Disposal," "What Will a Nuclear Waste Repository Look Like?" "What Is Spent Nuclear Fuel?" "Can Nuclear Waste Be Transported Safely?" and "How Much High-Level Nuclear Waste Is There?"

OCRWM experienced a number of setbacks in the first decade of its existence. No state was willing to allow the construction of a high-level nuclear waste repository within its borders. The technology for immobilizing wastes seemed still too primitive to guarantee that wastes would not escape in to the environment .

Eventually, however, OCRWM announced that it had chosen a site under Yucca Mountain in southeastern Nevada. The site lies on the boundaries of the Nevada Test Site and Nellis Air Force Base. It is near the town of Beatty, 100 mi (161 km) northwest of Las Vegas. The site has been studied since 1977 and should be ready to receive wastes early sometime around 2010. Some residents of Nevada are unhappy with the choice of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository, however, and continue to fight OCRWM's decision.

[David E. Newton ]


RESOURCES

ORGANIZATIONS

Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, Toll Free: (800) 225-6972, Email: [email protected], <http://www.rw.doe.gov>

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management." Environmental Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management." Environmental Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 20, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/office-civilian-radioactive-waste-management

"Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management." Environmental Encyclopedia. . Retrieved November 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/office-civilian-radioactive-waste-management

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.