Background | Research Quantities of Commercial Nuclear Fuel

In 1995, the state of Idaho, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Department of Energy reached an agreement that settled a lawsuit filed by the state to limit the shipment of spent nuclear fuel to DOE’s Idaho Site for storage.

Known as the 1995 Settlement Agreement, the document governs spent fuel shipments bound for what was then the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory or for the Naval Reactors Facility. The agreement included terms which:

  • Limited the amount of spent nuclear fuel entering the Site to 110 metric tons, and DOE must report annually on the amount received;
  • Specifically excluded shipments of spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants;
  • Imposed a deadline of Dec. 31, 2012 to complete treatment of sodium-bearing waste at the Site; and
  • Allowed the state to suspend shipments if DOE fails to meet ANY deadlines or obligations.

In 2011, the state granted a conditional waiver to the exclusion of commercial spent fuel for small quantities needed for examinations and research. More information on the 1995 Settlement Agreement and the 2011 conditional waiver is here.

In late 2014, DOE attempted to exercise that waiver by asking the state to allow research quantities of commercial spent fuel to come to Idaho National Laboratory for research.

The state denied that request because DOE had missed the 2012 deadline for completing treatment of sodium-bearing waste at DOE’s Idaho Site.