The US Department of Energy has released plans for an ‘aging pad’ that is intended to be the temporary home of some 21,000t of nuclear waste. The above ground site at Yucca Mountain will be used to let the waste age before it is transferred into the deep storage facility at the site. The 170m2 pad, surrounded by a 100m barrier, would allow the DoE to accept waste from the nuclear power plants across the country before Yucca Mountain's planned opening in 2010. Waste would be stored in roughly 2,000 casks and could include relatively hot materials.
The DoE had previously considered storage for up to 40,000t of waste, more than half the planned 70,000t capacity of the Yucca repository, but, in a case that may affect the Yucca proposals, the NRC has delayed licensing a temporary above-ground waste site in Utah, largely due to concerns over aircraft impacts.