Friday, October 31, 2008

DOE Awards $2.5 Billion For Yucca Mountain Project M&O

Oct 30: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a $2.5 billion management and operating (M&O) contract to USA Repository Services (USA-RS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the URS Corporation. USA-RS will be supported by principal subcontractors: Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure, Inc., and AREVA Federal Services, Inc. USA-RS will provide mission support to the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM) for the Yucca Mountain Project. As awarded, the contract has a five-year period of performance with a potential five-year option period. If fully exercised, this contract will continue through March 31, 2019.

Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said, “If we are to meet growing energy demand and slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear power must be a larger part of our energy mix; it is a mature technology with significant potential to supply large amounts of safe, reliable, emissions-free base load power. In order to ensure that such an expansion can occur, the United States must have a permanent repository for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. This contract will enable our national repository program to move forward by securing the necessary management and operations expertise needed as we begin the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing proceedings.”

The subject of Yucca Mountain is one where the presidential candidates have distinct differences. John McCain has supported the administration's plan of licensing and developing the Yucca Mountain repository. McCain says he wants to construct 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030 [
See WIMS 10/20/08]. He indicates that, "Nuclear power is a proven, zero-emission source of energy, and it is time we recommit to advancing our use of nuclear power." However, at a speech in May of this year he said, "I would seek to establish an international repository for spent nuclear fuel that could collect and safely store materials overseas that might otherwise be reprocessed to acquire bomb-grade materials. It is even possible that such an international center could make it unnecessary to open the proposed spent nuclear fuel storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada."

Barack Obama says, "It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option. However, before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, key issues must be addressed including: security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation. . . " He said he will make safeguarding nuclear material both abroad and in the U.S. a top anti-terrorism priority. In terms of waste storage, [Obama & Biden] do not believe that Yucca Mountain is a suitable site. They said they will "lead Federal efforts to look for safe, long-term disposal solutions based on objective, scientific analysis. In the meantime, they will develop requirements to ensure that the waste stored at current reactor sites is contained using the most advanced dry-cask storage technology available." [See WIMS 10/21/08].

Access a release from DOE (
click here). Access additional information from the DOE OCRWM (click here). Access the McCain May speech on nuclear security (click here). [*Haz/Nuclear]