Bechtel National Inc. and Deep Isolation Inc. today announced a cooperative agreement to accelerate deployment of a new technology developed by Deep Isolation to safely isolate used nuclear fuel rods and high-level radioactive waste in deep geologic boreholes. The agreement could lead to a solution to the decades-old question of what do to with the used fuel from nuclear power plants that supply 20 percent of U.S. electricity.
Under this agreement, Bechtel will provide support such as project management, business, and engineering capability for Deep Isolation’s sales in both domestic and international markets, including those with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Deep Isolation will provide options to support Bechtel’s cleanup work at federal government sites around the country.
Deep Isolation has developed a patented solution using directional drilling in order to safely secure nuclear waste deep underground. Currently, some 80,000 tons of used nuclear fuel awaits final disposal in the U.S. Although a pencil-eraser-sized pellet of nuclear fuel produces as much energy as 2,000 pounds of coal, the nation has yet to construct a repository for retrievable underground storage or final disposal.
James Taylor, general manager of Bechtel’s Environmental business line, said “Deep geologic disposal is the scientific consensus for permanently removing and disposing used nuclear fuel and high-level waste from their current locations around the country. We have long-term expertise in design, engineering, and licensing, as well as the boots-on-the-ground experience with the everyday challenges of cleaning up radioactive waste. Bechtel is proud to support such an innovative technology that offers an alternative solution for safe, retrievable disposal of used nuclear fuel and high-level waste.”
Elizabeth Muller, CEO of Deep Isolation, said “Bechtel was the first major industry player that understood the significance of what Deep Isolation is doing. They appreciate the importance of innovation and urgency in solving the nuclear waste problem. We are excited that this MOA will solidify our existing relationship and lead to new opportunities for us to explore together.”
Bechtel’s history of full-lifecycle services to the nuclear industry dates to the 1950s. The company designed, built, or provided services to nearly 80 percent of U.S. nuclear power plants. And at the back end of the lifecycle, Bechtel led the scientific characterization, engineering, and licensing efforts for the U.S. Department of Energy’s national repository program at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Bechtel also completed the engineering and design of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico – the nation’s only operating disposal facility for defense-generated transuranic waste.
About Deep Isolation:
Berkeley-based Deep Isolation is a leading innovator in nuclear waste disposal. Founded through a passion for environmental stewardship, scientific ingenuity and entrepreneurship, Deep Isolation has developed a patented solution using directional drilling in order to safely secure nuclear waste deep underground.