NRC Releases Study of Yucca Waste-Site Application

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission released a technical study of the U.S. application for a waste dump at Yucca Mountain as Republicans demand information on the halted Nevada project.

The document, prepared by agency staff, is part of the NRC’s winding down of its review of the license for the Yucca site, according to an NRC statement today. The 733-page review “does not include findings as to whether the NRC’s regulatory requirements have been satisfied,” the agency said in the statement.

House Republicans have requested that NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko provide e-mails and documents related to the Energy Department plans to build the waste dump at Yucca Mountain, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) from Las Vegas.

Republicans have said Jaczko, a former science adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, stalled work on the site for political reasons, which the NRC chairman has denied. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has led opposition to Yucca Mountain.

An NRC staff e-mail obtained by the House Energy and Commerce Committee showed Jaczko or his staff “were involved in the alteration of the original language,” of the technical report, according to a July 8 letter to the NRC chairman from Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican and head of the committee, and Representative John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican. They also want to know if Jaczko used an e-mail address other than his official NRC account to send or receive information about the Yucca project.

‘Where Are Findings’

“Today is an important step for some of the critical work of the NRC’s career scientists to finally see the light of day, but where are the findings?” Upton and Shimkus said today in a statement urging Jaczko to release the “full and uncensored” safety evaluation. “It is a shame that our nuclear future is still being dictated by the Obama administration’s political agenda.”

President Barack Obama’s administration in 2010 proposed terminating the Yucca project and sought to withdraw its license application at the NRC. Although an NRC licensing board rejected the request, the full commission hasn’t issued a final ruling on the matter. A federal appeals court said on July 1 it didn’t have jurisdiction in the controversy, effectively giving the NRC final say over the future of the nuclear waste repository.

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