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Posts Tagged ‘Yucca Johnny’

NRC BOARD RULING FALLOUT

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

By Yucca Johnny
Yesterday's decision by the NRC's Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB) is obviously a much welcomed development in pro-Yucca constituencies. However, it will clearly put the NRC Commission on the hot seat.

The ASLB's 47-page decision meticulously dismantles any case for withdrawing the Yucca license.  The Commission, which will in all likelihood get the case — on appeal or via its own motion — will have to decide whether to uphold  and thereby preserve the NRC's credibility or go down the path of least resistance and let politics dictate its decision.

Any consideration of the ASLB decision will also raise questions about individual Commissioners and their objectivity.  One need only recall the recently appointed Commissioners' confirmation hearing this winter.  When asked point blank by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) whether they would "second guess" the DOE's decision to withdraw the Yucca license application, the three nominees responded individually in robotic, rehearsed lockstep that they would not.

While the freshmen Commissioners will no doubt be reminded of this pledge, they certainly didn't commit to not second guessing the ASLB.  The conflict crosshairs will also be on NRC Chairman Jaczko, who had to recuse himself on all matters related to Yucca Mountain during his first year as Commissioner.  All eyes will be on Jaczko — a former Reid staffer — as to whether he'll try to help out his old boss by pushing to reverse the unanimous ASLB decision, something which has reportedly never been done in NRC history.

Regardless of the full Commission ruling, its decision will be challenged and end up in the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, which is presently scheduled to hear oral arguments in late September on a round of consolidated petitions against DOE's termination of the Yucca Mountain project.

BP & YUCCA: WILL THE GULF OIL SPILL FUND EVER BE SPENT AS INTENDED?

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

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By Yucca Johnny
For most of those listening to the President's Gulf Oil Speech last week, the idea that BP would be providing $20 billion to pay claims related to their oil spill seems like a good thing.

However, there are some 120 communities in 39 states around the country that were left wondering if this is another $20 billion being teed up to be poured down a proverbial black hole.

Those are the communities in which the federal government has long promised to meet its obligation to clean up spent fuel and nuclear waste by moving the material to a central national repository.   Indeed, the government has already collected more than $30 billion including interest to do so.

Or as Jim McTague notes in a Barrons piece on the Yucca Mountain termination decision:  Obama’s Other Disaster, the President has ‘triggered a less publicized environmental mess with costs that rival BP’s deep-water oil spill.  The difference is that taxpayers –not some energy company – will foot the bill.  The legal costs could top $50 billion.   And if Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada loses his tough re-election bid come November, then to borrow a phrase from an Oval Office operative, it will be money down the toilet.”

In fact the federal government has spent over $10 billion in scientific and technical studies to verify that the Yucca Mountain repository located in Nevada is scientifically suitable to store nuclear materials.

Notwithstanding all this, the Energy Department without any scientific justification and without a "Plan B," has cancelled the Yucca Mountain repository, stranding, in all likelihood, nuclear waste in these communities for the better part of a century.  Adding insult to injury, the Department says it will continue to collect annually the roughly $800 million mandated by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, without any clear plan or need for the money.

Will the BP oil fund go the same way? The federal government is desperate to reduce the federal deficit and could very well collect and reroute this money away from its original mandate for years by stretching out claim payments. 

 Caveat Emptor!