Senior managers under Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, manipulated information to halt work on a nuclear waste dump at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, an agency technical official said.
“Some senior managers contributed to the manipulation of the budget process and information to apparently make sure that the Yucca Mountain project would be left unfunded even if the license application was still before the NRC,” Aby Mohseni, acting director for licensing and inspections at the regulatory agency’s high-level waste repository safety division, said in remarks prepared for a congressional hearing today.
NRC officials are scheduled to testify before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on the license application for Yucca Mountain, which President Barack Obama’s administration has sought to withdraw. The administration also terminated its requested funding for the facility, located about 100 miles (161 kilometers) from Las Vegas.
A report this month by the agency’s inspector general said Jaczko selectively provided information to colleagues in order to keep plans for the waste repository from advancing.
Republicans, who want to revive plans for the facility, have accused Jaczko of blocking Yucca for political reasons, which he has denied. Jaczko, who was appointed by Obama, is a former adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat and a longtime opponent of the project.
“We were unprepared for the political pressures and manipulation of our scientific and licensing processes that would come with the appointment of Chairman Jaczko in 2009,” Mohseni said.
The NRC inspector general’s report didn’t say that Jaczko broke any laws in winding down the project.