September 8, 2008

NRC to Take Up Yucca Mountaiin

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday it will conduct a full review of the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

In announcing it had docketed the U.S. Energy Department's license application, the NRC said its staff also has recommended it adopt, with further supplementation, DOE's Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

The nuclear agency noted its action triggers a congressionally mandated, three-year deadline, with a possible one-year extension, for it to decide whether to authorize construction of the facility to hold high-level radioactive wastes. Meeting the deadline also is contingent upon adequate congressional funding, the NRC said.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman called the NRC action a "significant step" toward building America's first national geological repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, a major problem facing the country.

"I am confident the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's rigorous review process will validate that the Yucca Mountain repository will safely store this waste in a manner that is most protective of human health and the environment," Bodman said.

"As energy demand in the United States grows, the expansion of commercial nuclear power will be the key to providing the large amounts of emissions-free base load power we need, and the establishment of the Yucca Mountain repository is an important step toward enabling that expansion to occur."