NRC issues final Yucca Mountain EIS supplement

06 May 2016

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued its final supplement to the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Yucca Mountain permanent repository for used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in Nevada.

The supplement analyzes potential impacts on groundwater and surface groundwater discharges and determines that all impacts would be "small."

The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued the final EIS for the proposed repository in 2002, supplementing it in 2008 when it submitted a construction application to the NRC. The NRC found that the 2008 EIS did not adequately address all of the repository-related effects on groundwater, or from surface discharges of groundwater. The DOE accordingly updated its analysis of potential groundwater impacts after closure of a repository at the site, and in February 2015 the NRC directed its staff to prepare the final supplement using the updated DOE analysis.

The NRC published a draft of the supplement for public comment in August 2015, receiving more than 1200 comments on the draft supplement in the 91-day consultation period.

The US government is legally responsible for developing a long-term disposal strategy for used nuclear fuel, which from 1992 until 2009 had focused on a repository at Yucca Mountain. The US administration decided to abandon the Yucca Mountain project in 2009, but the NRC was compelled to continued review work on the application following a 2013 appeal court ruling. The DOE announced a new waste disposal strategy in early 2013, envisaging a series of interim stores until a permanent underground disposal facility is ready for service around 2048.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News