Skip to comments.NARUC, Murkowski, Others Protest Yucca Closing
Posted on 03/19/2010 8:00:20 AM PDT by kidd
March 18, 2010Objections to DOEs plans to withdraw its license application for the Yucca Mountain used fuel repository continued to gain pace this week, with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) adding their voices.
NARUC filed with the NRCs Atomic Safety and Licensing Board its petition to intervene in the boards considerations of DOEs March 3 motion to withdraw with prejudice its Yucca license application. In its filing, NARUC said DOEs withdrawal is premature, arbitrary and capricious. The ASLB is the body determining whether DOE can legally withdraw its application.
The filing went on to say, Dismissal at this late stage, in the absence of any rational explanation or record based findings to justify it, is an incredible waste of the billions in ratepayer dollars spent on the licensing proceeding to date. If the motion [to withdraw] is successful, and history is any indication, it will effectively delay DOEs ability to finally begin to accept waste for at least 25 years. NARUCs petition this week was joined by one from the Prairie Island Indian Community, whose tribal lands in Minnesota abut the nuclear plant of the same name. Other petitions by the states of Washington and South Carolina and by Aiken County, S.C., bring the total so far to five. The Prairie Island and earlier petitions are concerned that DOE is violating its statutory obligations under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and other agreements to remove defense origin radioactive waste from DOE sites in those states for disposal in Yucca Mountain.
NARUC was one of the signatories in a letter that went out this week to leaders of House and Senate appropriations subcommittees, urging them to restore funding for DOE to keep the Yucca Mountain license application process alive. The letter, also signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and several other regional economic development groups, also asks that the blue ribbon commission studying the issue include Yucca Mountain in its considerations.
Sen. Murkowski, in a Mar. 16 speech on the Senate floor, said the administrations decision could result in breach of contract lawsuits from the 13 states that are storing radioactive wastes at federal sites. She added that some would be paying twice for the cancellation of the repository, through existing and pending breach of contract settlements to utility companies that could reach between $12 billion and $50 billion, added to the $30 billion collected in the nuclear waste fund that would conceivably need to be refunded if the program were shut down.
Steven Kraft, NEIs senior director for used fuel management, said, The industry strongly urges that the Yucca Mountain license application process continue to completion. However, we understand the administration acknowledges its continued statutory obligation to manage commercial used nuclear fuel. He said the industry fully expects that the blue ribbon commission will consider all options consistent with the industrys integrated used fuel strategy and that DOEs plans should comply with those recommendations that are ultimately accepted.
Kraft added, If the Yucca Mountain project is terminated, it should be done in a manner that would permit it to be restarted, if warranted. This includes withdrawal without prejudice, and preservation of records, tests, samples, etc. in accordance with NRC requirements. Pending disposition of the five petitions received so far, the ASLB has suspended further action on DOEs withdrawal motion. The board may hold oral arguments to address the petitions before rendering its decision. It is anticipated that the boards determinations will be appealed to the NRC.
The ASLB is politically neutral, but I'm not sure if the Obama appointees at the higher levels in the NRC have the ability to twist arms or not.
We need to reprocess fuel.
Yes. Simply storing it is a big waste of a valuable resource. I hope that the "blue ribbon panel" will consider reprocessing. Stopping Yucca development was a favor to Harry Reid, and made little sense. But if reprocessing is allowed, then it will be a positive development.
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