US energy secretary visits Yucca Mountain

28 March 2017

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry yesterday visited the site of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and discussed the status of the project with Nevada governor Brian Sandoval. Perry said the meeting was the first step in the process of talking to stakeholders following a presidential budget request to restart licensing proceedings for the repository. Sandoval, who opposes the project, said the meeting was not the start of negotiations.

Rick Perry (in the foreground) visits the Yucca Mountain site (Image: @SecretaryPerry)

"Governor Sandoval and I had a frank and productive conversation, where he expressed his appreciation for my visit and reiterated his opposition to the proposed project," Perry said in a statement issued by the Department of Energy (DOE). "I thanked him for the long and storied history the state of Nevada has had in our nuclear and defence industries. I stressed the need for Nevada to maintain its key role as we seek sensible, stable, and long-term solutions to fulfilling our responsibility to safely manage [used] nuclear fuel."

"The President has requested $120 million in his FY18 budget to restart the licensing proceedings for Yucca Mountain. Today's meeting with Governor Sandoval was the first step in a process that will involve talking with many federal, state, local, and commercial stakeholders," Perry said.

Sandoval said the meeting, requested by Perry and held in Las Vegas following the energy secretary's visit to the Yucca Mountain site, was not "the beginning of a negotiation" regarding the project. "I reaffirmed my unwavering opposition to any potential progress toward developing the site as a potential destination for high-level nuclear waste," he said in a statement. "[T]he storage of high-level waste at Yucca Mountain is not something I am willing to consider."

Yucca Mountain has since 1987 been named in the US Nuclear Waste Policy Act as the sole initial repository for disposal of the country's used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes. The DOE submitted a construction licence application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2008, but the US Administration subsequently decided to abort the project, appointing a high-level Blue Ribbon Commission to come up with alternative strategies.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News