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Campers Mary Church and Jimmy Cong use their sense of smell to detect whether a chemical reaction has taken place. Amy Standen for NPR hide caption

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Amy Standen for NPR

Last year, the Obama administration canceled plans to make Yucca Mountain the permanent storage site for the nation's nuclear waste. The half-built site is seen here in a file photo from 2006. Isaac Breekken/AP hide caption

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Isaac Breekken/AP

Above-ground casks at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant store some of the utility's nuclear fuel. Because of a lack of a central repository, nuclear waste is piling up at individual reactor sites across the United States. Michael Mariant/AP hide caption

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Michael Mariant/AP