ADVANCE Momentum for Nuclear Waste?

By Chuck McCutcheon

A company that’s developed a novel new nuclear waste disposal technology hopes Congress’ overwhelming support for the ADVANCE Act will lend its efforts some political momentum.

Why it matters: As nuclear energy gains in political and public acceptance, many observers say the issue of how to dispose of waste over the longer term deserves far more attention.

Driving the news: Deep Isolation Inc. CEO Rod Baltzer spent this week in D.C. meeting with Energy Department officials and others to explain its nuclear waste disposal system.

  • “Seeing the ADVANCE Act pass the Senate 88-2 … that’s phenomenal,” said Baltzer, who formerly headed Texas’ Waste Control Specialists.

How it works: Deep Isolation wants to use directional drilling technology, popular in the oil and gas industry, to dig long, narrow holes thousands of feet underground into which canisters of waste can be emplaced.

  • The concept has both supporters and skeptics.
  • Communities could use the technology to bury materials where they’re generated, such as near advanced reactors, Baltzer said.
  • “They can know going into it, ‘OK, I’m going to get this power. I’m going to get these property taxes, these jobs, these other benefits. I’m also going to dispose of the waste here,” he said. “And so you’ve got the full life cycle, but you can just dispose of your waste, not the nation’s waste.”

What’s next: In the U.S., Baltzer sees deep isolation as a complement to — not a replacement for — a geologic repository as dictated by the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act. But first, laws and regulations need to “catch up.”

  • “I think there’s some progress toward that. We’re definitely having conversations where we can and as we can as a small business.”
Deep Isolation welcomes decision by Estonian Parliament to support the adoption of Nuclear Energy

BERKELEY, CA – Deep Isolation welcomes the vote this week by the Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu, in which a three-fifths majority passed a Resolution supporting the adoption of nuclear energy in Estonia.  Fermi Energia is driving this effort forward by investing to support energy security and a net-zero energy market in Estonia through the development of a Small Modular Reactor.

Rod Baltzer, CEO of Deep Isolation, said, “New nuclear energy is vital to provide the clean, scalable foundation of our net-zero future.  I welcome the recognition of this by the Estonian Parliament.  My congratulations go to the Estonian Nuclear Energy Working Group, whose evidence-driven analysis supported this decision, and to our colleagues at Fermi Energia, whose innovation and entrepreneurship are enabling Estonia’s nuclear future.  I also welcome the leadership that Estonia is showing by focusing on the need to establish a solution for safe, scalable disposal of spent nuclear fuel right at the outset of the country’s nuclear journey.” 

Chris Parker, Managing Director of Deep Isolation’s European business, added, “Deep Isolation is proud to support Fermi Energia as it takes forward the clear wishes of the Estonian Parliament.  In February this year, Fermi Energia announced that it has selected Deep Isolation’s technology as its solution for storage and disposal of SMR spent fuel, and we look forward to working with them and stakeholders across Estonia to bring this to fruition.”

“Next steps for Fermi Energia include submitting an application for National Designated Spatial Planning (including Environmental Impact Assessment) for 2-3 sites within the next 4 months. During this process, the most suitable site for the 2-unit BWRX-300 plant will be officially selected, and the layout and conditions for the project will be established. The National Designated Spatial Planning (NDSP) process is expected to continue until 2028. By that time, Fermi Energia aims to be prepared to apply for a construction license in Estonia, drawing upon the successful experiences with the BWRX-300 in Darlington and Polish Stawy Monowskie FOAK projects,” explains Kalev Kallemets (PhD), Fermi Energia CEO. 

On 7 February 2024, Deep Isolation and Fermi Energia announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly drive forward the development of SMRs in Estonia supported by a safe and scalable solution for the resulting spent fuel, based on use of Deep Isolation’s Universal Canister System (UCS) and patented directional drilling solution for deep borehole disposal for isolation and management of spent fuel.

Media Contact:

Sophie McCallum, Chief of Staff
media@deepisolation.com
2001 Addison St., Suite 300
Berkeley, CA 94704
www.deepisolation.com

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About Deep Isolation:
Deep Isolation is a leading global innovator in nuclear waste storage and disposal solutions. Driven by a passion for environmental stewardship and scientific ingenuity, the company’s patented solution of advanced nuclear technologies enables global delivery through its partnerships with industry leaders as well as flexible IP licensing options.

About Fermi Energia:
Fermi Energia is investing to support energy security and a net-zero energy market in Estonia through development of a Small Modular Reactor.  Since 2019, Fermi Energia has conducted a series of research and preliminary works, with the aim to start energy production in 2035.  These include pre-implementation studies with Deep Isolation, to confirm the compatibility of Deep Isolation’s technology with Estonia’s geology and to evaluate the economics of deploying their technology in the context of either an open or closed fuel cycle. 

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BERKELEY, CADeep Isolation, the leading global innovator in nuclear waste storage and disposal solutions, today announced the appointment of Rod Baltzer as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective June 1st, 2024. Baltzer will succeed Elizabeth Muller, who will transition to the role of Executive Chair of the Board.

Muller co-founded Deep Isolation in 2016 along with her father, Richard A. Muller, as the first ever private nuclear waste disposal company in the world, based on a concept discovered while working on global warming issues through their internationally recognized nonprofit, Berkeley Earth. Since then, Deep Isolation has been issued 70 patents, that leverage proven drilling practices to safely isolate waste deep underground in horizontal, vertical, or slanted borehole repositories.

Baltzer, who has served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Deep Isolation since 2018, brings extensive experience in the nuclear industry. His leadership, strategic vision, and deep understanding of the nuclear sector uniquely position him to lead Deep Isolation into its next phase of growth.

In a letter addressed to Deep Isolation investors and advisory board members, Muller expressed her confidence in Baltzer’s ability to steer the company towards achieving its goals: “While I believe I was the right person to bring Deep Isolation to where it is today, we now need someone who is fluent in the nuclear industry, with long-standing relationships with the partners and teams who can help us make disposal a reality.” She added, “I will continue to be closely involved, maintaining those roles that I do best.”

Under Baltzer’s leadership, Deep Isolation is poised to further advance its mission of providing equitable and environmentally protective disposal solution. He will focus on developing a detailed understanding of what is required for a disposal contract, securing partnerships, and advancing disposal opportunities. 

“I am honored to assume the role of CEO at Deep Isolation, a company that is at the forefront of revolutionizing nuclear waste technologies,” Baltzer shared. “I am committed to building upon our success and driving innovation in the field of nuclear waste storage and disposal. Together with our dedicated team, I am confident that we will continue to deliver groundbreaking solutions that prioritize safety, sustainability, and environmental stewardship.”

Other changes in the organization were also announced and include Chris Parker as Chief Commercialization Officer, Jesse Sloane as Executive Vice President of Engineering, Ethan Bates as Vice President of Product, Matt Waples as Director of Engineering, and Vaibhav Sharma as Senior Engineer. The new titles recognize the roles and responsibilities they have in the company and better align with similar positions in other organizations. 

Baltzer was previously President, CEO, and CFO of Waste Control Specialists (WCS), a leading provider of services for low-level radioactive waste, mixed low-level radioactive waste, and hazardous waste. At WCS he was responsible for all aspects of the business including the NRC license application for the consolidated interim storage of used nuclear fuel. Baltzer maintained relationships with local community leaders and managed local, state and federal engagement with stakeholders. Baltzer is an expert in the radioactive waste industry, generators, and national storage and disposal capabilities. Baltzer successfully facilitated the 2018 sale of WCS to J.F. Lehman & Company.

For more information, please visit www.deepisolation.com.

About Deep Isolation:

Named as one of Goldman Sachs’ 30 top startups in carbon capture, hydrogen power, and nuclear energy, Deep Isolation is the first company to commercialize a nuclear waste solution.  It offers a uniquely tailored solution to help countries complete the necessary steps to dispose of their waste inventories. With 70 patents issued to date, it leverages proven drilling practices to safely isolate waste deep underground in horizontal, vertical, or slanted borehole repositories.  

By combining scientific and nuclear expertise with specialized stakeholder engagement skills, Deep Isolation works alongside communities to design and deliver an equitable and environmentally protective disposal solution.  Deep Isolation has partnered with Amentum, Bechtel National, NAC International, Navarro, and others, and has completed projects with nine countries on three continents.

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Deep Isolation is a leading global innovator in nuclear waste storage and disposal solutions. Driven by a passion for environmental stewardship and scientific ingenuity, the company’s patented solution of advanced nuclear technologies enables global delivery through its partnerships with industry leaders as well as flexible IP licensing options.

Media Contact:

Sophie McCallum, Chief of Staff
media@deepisolation.com
2001 Addison St., Suite 300
Berkeley, CA 94704
www.deepisolation.com

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