| January 1983|
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 was signed, authorizing the development of a spent fuel and high-level nuclear waste repository. High-level waste is the highly radioactive material that results from reprocessing spent, or used, nuclear fuel. High-level waste includes both liquid and solid waste and contains elements that decay very slowly and remain radioactive for thousands of years. Most high-level waste must be handled by remote control. A repository would permanently isolate the waste deep within the Earth. The geology of the repository would have to prevent any possible migration of the waste.
This Act gave DOE the responsibility to locate, license, construct, and operate a geological repository for high-level waste. In 1984, DOE announced it had selected three sites to be considered: (1) in volcanic tuff (rock made of compacted volcanic ash) deposits in Nye County, Nevada; (2) in an underground salt bed in Deaf Smith County, Texas; and (3) in basalt (hard, dense volcanic rock) deposits at the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington. In December 1987, the Congress designated Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the single site to be considered (see December 1987).