US Nuclear Waste Storage Map: This Map Shows Current Plants Storing Nuclear Waste in the United States – And There Are Many Around!

I think this is a debate actually occurring in each country around the world: Where do we want to put our nuclear waste!

What is the place in America that no one cares about!

Where to entomb our toxic nuclear remains!

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Yucca mountain travel center billboard. Photo: Iawatha

Yucca, the rocky desert range on the horizon, was chosen 25 years ago as the nation’s first and only nuclear waste repository. Thus began a conflict among politicians, locals, anti-nuclear activists, government officials, and the nuclear industry. Thanks to decades of political power plays, safety debates, and scientific disagreement, Yucca has never opened.

Meanwhile, nuclear power provides twenty percent of America’s electricity, with the resulting waste — about 70,000 tons of it — accumulating at 75 sites nationwide, including near major metro areas such as New York City, New Orleans, and Chicago as shown in the map below.

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Map of current nuclear waste storage locations in the United States by Wikicommon

Moving a nation’s accumulated nuclear waste to one spot — or even a few centralized spots — would be expensive. And it would involve complicated cooperation among nuclear companies that typically operated independently. So for two decades, almost nothing happened. Without serious political pressure, nothing would happen. But few people knew or cared enough to force legislative action.

Examples of radioactive dangerous disposal site locations: Idaho National Laboratory and Hanford Site

The radioactive remains of the Three Mile Island disaster, seen in this ominous government issued video, are stored at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, just west of the Teton National Forest. These remains were destined for Yucca Mountain. Now, their future is uncertain.

Moreover, about 9,700 canisters of high-level radioactive waste and more than 2,000 tons of used nuclear weapons fuel were expected to be shipped to Yucca from the Hanford Site in Washington State. Hanford is a largely abandoned Manhattan Project relic that produced, among other nuclear weapons exploits, the Fat Man atomic bomb detonated over Nagasaki during World War II. It sits about 250 miles up the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon.

Hanford’s waste has been notoriously mismanaged. Rarely does a year pass when there isn’t another major investigative report talking about how Hanford waste was dumped downriver or leaked into the atmosphere. One of the more recent reports called Hanford “one of the most toxic nuclear-waste sites in the world,” concluding that the agencies managing Hanford are “at best ignoring, and at worst actively retaliating against, experts with inconvenient opinions” about the radiation that continues to emanate from Hanford.

If Yucca never goes forward, Washington State legislators believe Hanford’s waste could sit permanently where it is. So it’s no wonder that one of the states pushing hardest to open Yucca is Washington State. Legislators and lawyers there have filed multiple lawsuits against the federal government about the Yucca stalemate, as explained by The Verge.


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