WHERE DOES THE YUCCA MOUNTAIN HIGH-LEVEL NUCLEAR WASTE PROPOSAL GO FROM HERE?THE NUCLEAR WASTE POLICY ACT SETS OUT THE FOLLOWING PROCEDURE FOR DESIGNATION (OR NOT) OF THE YUCCA MOUNTAIN SITE FOR A LICENSE APPLICATION TO DEVELOP A REPOSITORY:
If the Secretary of Energy determines at any time that the site is unsuitable for development of a repository, he must end all site characterization work and inform Congress and the Nevada Governor and Legislature of this determination. Then, within 6 months, the Secretary must make recommendations to the Congress for further action regarding disposal, including the need for new legislative authority.
The Governor of the State of Nevada and 125 public interest organizations notified the Secretary of Energy that the site should be disqualified because it could not meet the established guidelines The Secretary claimed that the project was still a "study" and work continued.
At the end of 2001, the guidelines were revised and a list of conditions that could disqualify the site from consideration were eliminated.Hearings were held in Nevada during the last quarter of 2001.
Secretary Abraham informed Nevada Governor Guinn and the Nevada Legislature, on January 10, 2002 of his intent to recommend the Yucca Mountain site to President Bush for development as a repository. On February 14, 2002 Secretary Abraham recommended the site.
If anytime after he receives the Secretary’s recommendation, the President recommends the site to Congress, the Secretary must submit a repository license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, no later than 90 days after the site designation becomes effective.
On February 15, 2002 President Bush recommended the site to Congress.
Following the President’s recommendation to the Congress, the Governor or Legislature of Nevada have the opportunity, within 60 days, to submit a notice of disapproval. Unless a notice of disapproval is submitted, the site designation becomes effective 60 days after the President’s recommendation.
The Nevada Legislature adopted a resolution of disapproval, and Governor Guinn submited a notice of disapproval. The President recommended the site to Congress. In 1989, the Legislature enacted, and the Governor signed, a bill making a high-level nuclear waste repository illegal in the State.
Congress passed a resolution overriding the Governor’s veto and the President signed the resolution.
Four new bills have been introduced in Congress.Two would establish on-site storage areas at the reactors where the waste was generated or within the state that produced the waste. One would call for one or more temporary sites to be found for centralized interim storage until Yucca Mountain is operating, and one amounts to a Christmas list for DOE, providing for "fixes" to the problems that have slowed the project down over the last twenty years. None of these passed.
The Department of Energy submitted a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a construction authorization to build a repository at Yucca Mountain and licensing activities began.
Secretary of Energy Chu filed a notion with the NRC to withdraw the license application saying that the plan to build a repository at Yucca Mountain is "unworkable" and "not an option". Lawsuits opposing the ending of the project were filed in Federal Court by the States of South Carolina, Washington and other parties. The cases are pending and awaiting the decision by the NRC.
Please stay tuned. It is impossible to predict where the Yucca Mountain proposal will go from here.Prepared by the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, a non-profit public advocacy organization. c/o Judy Treichel, 4587 Ermine Ct., Las Vegas, NV 89147 – Telephone: 702-248-1127
Judy Treichel, Executive Director, E-mail: email@example.com