into centralized storage and from storage to emplacement underground. The analysis must compare rigorously the leave-in-place option, for realistic time frames, with other alternatives.
The choice is not whether to put HLW and SNF into a repository or leave them on the surface for the order of 10,000 years. Rather, the choice is where to put them in order to assure safety and security. Although storage is not the final answer, it is a near-term necessity, and it will remain a necessity for many decades. Development of a site and the technology for geological disposal is a process that has taken decades already, and it may take many more for some national programs. Underground emplacement of HLW with retrievability is an alternative to surface storage, and neither surface storage nor such geological disposition precludes shifting to another disposition approach later.
The major choice for nuclear programs for coming decades is how to assure the safe and secure control of HLW and SNF—while at the same time developing an option for geological disposal so that an ongoing commitment to active management can, at some future time, be brought to an end. It is important not to prejudice the final steps in committing to geological disposal. Commitment to geological disposal will require both a robust technical basis and public understanding and acceptance of this commitment. The robust technical basis and public support may take some decades to achieve. In the meantime, other options for HLW disposition, or even disposal, may become available and may be preferred.