NRC seeks input on Yucca Mountain restart

02 September 2013

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has asked for views on how it should go about resuming the licensing process for the Yucca Mountain waste repository.

Yucca Mountain 250
Yucca Mountain (Image: DoE)

The Department of Energy (DoE) submitted its application to build a permanent repository for the US nuclear industry's used fuel as well as military high-level wastes in 2008, but the NRC suspended work on the licence following a 2009 decision by the US administration to abandon the project and start afresh on developing a new strategy to deal with nuclear waste.

A lawsuit was brought by petitioners including the states of Washington and South Carolina, and other entities and individuals from those states including state public utility regulators. The petitioners were seeking a writ of mandamus: a court order effectively forcing the licence application work to be resumed.

On 13 August, the US Court of Appeals directed the NRC to continue with the legally mandated licensing process for a geologic repository at the Nevada site.

According to the NRC, its request for input will help it to ensure "the most efficient and productive use" of the $11 million it has left to resume the licensing process.

An order issued by the NRC invites all participants in the proceeding to submit their views as to how the agency should continue with the process. The court order becomes effective on 3 September 2013, but the NRC has given respondents until 30 September to lodge their views.

Nye County, Nevada, has already asked for NRC chair Alison Macfarlane to withdraw from matters related to the Yucca Mountain because of her academic and consultancy work on the project prior to her appointment to the NRC, including the publication of statements critical of the project. Although it acknowledges that the statements were made in Macfarlane's previous role as an academic and independent technical consultant, the filing asserts that these raise doubts about her impartiality, making her recusal mandatory.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News