End of the line for Yucca Mountain

04 March 2010

The withdrawal of its licence application yesterday marked the official end of the Yucca Mountain repository project.


Yucca Mountain - aerial
A file photo of Yucca Mountain, being
used here for the last time
The landmark means that efforts to make real the pledges of the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act resulted only in $10 billion of spending on a project now described as "not an option." The project came to an official halt yesterday when the Department of Energy (DoE) filed a motion with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to withdraw the application to build and operate Yucca Mountain.


About one year ago President Barack Obama cut all funding for the DoE's work towards realising Yucca Mountain apart from answering questions from the NRC related to the license application.


However, "President Obama is fully committed to ensuring that the nation meets our long-term storage obligations for nuclear waste," said Scott Blake Harris of the DoE. The route for this is to be the 15-member Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, nominated last month. It is to evaluate fuel-cycle and disposal options, including the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel, but will not touch on any siting concerns. Work for the group begins with its first meeting on 25-26 March and will continue until 2012.


Seeing as the USA's used nuclear fuel and other highly radioactive materials left over from weapons programs are temporarily stored at dozens of different secure sites, it is likely that a small number of larger longer-term facilities would be recommended. Most likely the permanent disposal route would be another geologic repository after a new site selection process based on voluntary participation of communities.
Researched and written by
World Nuclear News