Budget cuts for US nuclear

25 May 2017

The US administration is requesting $703m for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) nuclear energy programme in fiscal year 2018, 28.7% or $283m below the $986m the programme received in fiscal 2016, according to a statement on 23 May 2017.

The statement gave no additional details of the budget proposal, which still needs to be approved by Congress, other than to say the money would be used “to facilitate continued innovation on improved ways to generate nuclear power”. The budget request also includes $120m for nuclear waste management, opening the way for licensing the long-stalled deep geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada and for the interim storage of utility used fuel.

DOE said nuclear funding for the next fiscal year would focus on early research and development efforts that could benefit the broad civilian nuclear power industry and that efforts involving more mature technologies would be up to the private sector to carry forward.  The budget request includes over $370m to help strengthen and protect energy infrastructure from cyberattacks, and $6.5bn for cleaning up the nation’s nuclear legacy from World War II and the Cold War. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is proposing a fiscal year 2018 budget of $952m, nearly $45m lower than 2016’s spending levels. The NRC said that despite reductions in spending and staffing levels, the budget supports the agency’s safety and security objectives. The NRC said $466.7m is for nuclear reactor safety, and $171.1m for nuclear materials and waste safety, which includes $30m to support activities for Yucca Mountain.


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