Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Yucca Mountain Application Docketed - Triggers 3-Year+ Review

Sep 8: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has formally docketed the Department of Energy’s license application for the proposed high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, NV. The Agency staff has also recommended that the Commission adopt, with further supplementation, DOE’s Environmental Impact Statement for the repository project. The decision to docket the application follows the NRC staff’s determination that the application, submitted June 3 [See WIMS 6/3/08], is sufficiently complete for the staff to begin its full technical review. Docketing the application does not indicate whether the Commission will approve or reject the construction authorization for the repository, nor does it preclude the Commission or the agency staff from requesting additional information from DOE during the course of its comprehensive technical review.

Docketing the application triggers a three-year deadline, with a possible one-year extension, set by Congress for the NRC to decide whether to grant a construction authorization. NRC officials have stated that meeting this deadline is contingent on the agency receiving sufficient resources from Congress. After reviewing DOE’s Environmental Impact Statement and its supplements, the NRC staff determined that it would be practicable for the Agency to adopt the DOE report. However, the staff is requesting that DOE supplement some aspects of its groundwater analyses. A notice of docketing will be published soon in the Federal Register. A subsequent Federal Register notice will provide an opportunity for interested parties to seek an adjudicatory hearing before the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board regarding the NRC’s adoption of the Environmental Impact Statement or the substance of the license application.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel Bodman said, “This is a significant step forward in solving the nation’s problem of disposing of spent nuclear fuel and high-level nuclear waste currently sitting at 121 temporary locations in 39 states across the country. I am confident the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s rigorous review process will validate that the Yucca Mountain repository will safely store this waste in a manner that is most protective of human health and the environment. As energy demand in the United States grows, the expansion of commercial nuclear power will be the key to providing the large amounts of emissions-free base load power we need, and the establishment of the Yucca Mountain repository is an important step toward enabling that expansion to occur.”

Access a release from NRC (
click here). Access a release from DOE (click here). Access complete information on the Yucca application including links to all detailed documents (click here). [*Energy/Nuclear]