Lawmakers Urge NRC to Complete Safety Report for Yucca Mountain
Today, Congressman Doc Hastings and a group of bipartisan lawmakers requested that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) complete its work on the Safety Evaluation Report (SER) for Yucca Mountain. The letter goes on to request the NRC to comply with the law of the land and move the United States closer to having a permanent repository for nuclear waste.
In the letter to NRC Chairman Alison Macfarlane, the lawmakers noted, “When the license review process was shutdown in a misguided decision by your predecessor, NRC staff worked to complete one volume of the SER and completed technical evaluation reports without recommendations for three of the other four volumes. It is our firm belief that completion of the SER will settle the debate and provide scientific data confirming what we have known for many years – that Yucca Mountain is a safe location for a permanent repository.”
On August 13, 2013, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the NRC to restart its work on the licensing process for a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain – the nation's legal repository for commercial spent nuclear fuel and for high-level defense waste at Hanford and other sites across the nation. Congress has voted to reaffirm Yucca Mountain as the legal repository several times and the House of Representatives included $25 million for Yucca Mountain in its Fiscal Year 2014 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.
“Releasing the NRC report and completing the Yucca Mountain licensing process is critical for Washington state,” said Hastings. “A $12 billion facility designed to vitrify Hanford’s high-level tank waste so that it can be sent to Yucca Mountain is nearly 70 percent complete. Further delays of Yucca Mountain add risk to the Waste Treatment Plant and will result in waste staying at Hanford longer.”
Click here to read a copy of the letter signed by 81 bipartisan Members of Congress.
Dear Chairman Macfarlane:
As you are aware, on August 13, 2013 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a Writ of Mandamus requiring the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to continue its work on the licensing process for the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada. In your response to a question for the record from a hearing on July 24, 2012 and testimony at a September 10, 2013 hearing, you indicated your willingness to follow NRC procedures in making a final determination on the Yucca Mountain licensing issue. Now that a Writ of Mandamus has been granted, we ask that you follow through on that commitment and focus the limited available NRC resources on completion of the safety evaluation reports (SER).
In the years since Yucca Mountain was chosen as the location as the permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste, there has been much debate about the adequacy of Yucca to fill that role. When the license review process was shutdown in a misguided decision by your predecessor, NRC staff worked to complete one volume of the SER and completed technical evaluation reports without recommendations for three of the other four volumes. It is our firm belief that completion of the SER will settle the debate and provide scientific data confirming what we have known for many years – that Yucca Mountain is a safe location for a permanent repository.
As we noted above, we understand that the NRC does not have the funding to complete the entire licensing process for Yucca Mountain. Given that limitation, we urge the NRC to do the most with the little it has remaining. In previous testimony given by the NRC, it is NRC’s estimate that it may take six to eight months and approximately $6.5 million to complete the SER. Because the licensing process has been dormant a number of years, it is understandable that it may take additional resources to restart the SER process. As the House of Representatives continues to work in a bipartisan effort to secure additional funding for the NRC, we hope that the NRC will act as good stewards of the funds already appropriated and accomplish as much as possible and start by completing the SER.
We know you share the same hope we do of completing a permanent repository for our nation’s nuclear waste. Such a goal is in the best interests of ratepayers, taxpayers, and our national security. We hope you will focus your remaining resources on completing the critical step of the safety evaluation report and help move us one step closer to our shared goal.