DOE awards $2M to Vanderbilt-led consortium to develop best practices for consent-based siting of interim storage for spent nuclear fuel

A team led by Steve Krahn, professor of the practice of nuclear environmental engineering at Vanderbilt, will be awarded about $2 million to assist the U.S. Department of Energy in the development of best practices to protect community well-being and address the concerns of people in its management of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel (SNF).

Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) canisters at the Savannah River Site. (Photo: Department of Energy)

The funding is part of $26 million the DOE has provided for groups of university, nonprofit, and private-sector partners that will work with communities interested in learning more about consent-based siting, management of spent nuclear fuel, and interim storage facility siting considerations.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the amount of spent nuclear fuel produced by nuclear power plants in the United States has steadily increased during the past few decades at the rate of about 2,000 metric tons per year.

This effort will be managed within the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP), which is led by David Kosson, the Gass Family Chair in Energy and the Environment and Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Vanderbilt.

The CRESP mission is to advance cost-effective and risk-informed environmental cleanup of the nation’s nuclear weapons production facility waste sites and civilian nuclear waste. Fostering mutual learning through public participation and stakeholder involvement on best practices in community and Tribal participation in risk-informed decision-making is a central component of CRESP.

The CRESP team will engage with local and state stakeholders, as well as Tribal communities, at or near the Hanford Site in Benton County, Washington, and the Savannah River Site covering the counties of Aiken, Allendale, and Barnwell counties in South Carolina, along with Tribal leaders through DOE’s Office of Indian Energy. Then, the CRESP team will develop and test innovative forms of community participation in decision-making that build sustainable trust among the parties.

“The CRESP team has chosen to focus on the communities surrounding these two sites because they have extensive experience engaging with DOE as it works to accomplish its missions,” said Krahn. He further noted that, “these two sites are also located close to producers of SNF—operating commercial nuclear reactors. Hanford and SRS thus provide the CRESP team with an opportunity to learn about both best practices and challenges in community engagement in two perceptibly different communities.”

Joining Vanderbilt are researchers from Rutgers University and Oregon State University, along with Tim Fields, a retired senior executive from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

CRESP was among 13 geographically and institutionally diverse awardees – representing 12 states and the District of Columbia – competitively selected by DOE.


Contact: Lucas Johnson, 615-343-0137