Reader C.H., a nuclear expert, writes in on this post:
About the von Hippel piece re. Yucca Mountain, it is certainly true that lots of technologies are available for storage of nuclear fuel. The problem with the cancellation of Yucca Mountain is that at least half of that project was for storing military wastes, many of which are in liquid form. Without Yucca Mountain, the materials in temporary storage at Hanford Reservation and Savannah River will have to stay there.
There is indeed no urgency to undertake reprocessing. That can wait until in some future decade the price of uranium has risen sufficiently to make reprocessing economically attractive. Reprocessing, if you will, functions as a price cap on the long term cost of uranium.
The real effect of the cancellation of Yucca Mountain is that the U.S. federal government is now exposed to the full penalties of failing to take title to all U.S. used nuclear fuel waste in 1998. The longer it postpones taking title, the greater the penalty will be.