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GAO's analysis of Department of Energy cost projections found that a repository to dispose of 153,000 metric tons would cost from $41 billion to $67 billion (in 2009 present value) over a 143-year period until the repository is closed. Nuclear power rate payers would pay about 80 percent of these costs, and taxpayers would pay about 20 percent.
If completed and successful, the repository could potentially hold a massive amount of the United States' nuclear waste, possibly even allowing the U.S. to make huge expansions in its nuclear fission power generation footprint. The project, however, has come under intense environmental scrutiny for perceived weaknesses, and nuclear fears.
The report noted that centralized storage at two locations "provides an alternative that could be implemented within 10 to 30 years, allowing more time to consider final disposal options, nuclear waste to be removed from decommissioned reactor sites, and the government to take custody of commercial nuclear waste, saving billions of dollars in liabilities."
However, the report noted this comes with other difficulties, both in the DOE's mirky statutory authority, and in finding a state willing to have the waste dumped within its borders. The report estimated the 2009 present value cost of centralized storage of 153,000 metric tons at the end of 100 years to range from $15 billion to $29 billion but increasing to between $23 billion and $81 billion with final geologic disposal.