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Posts Tagged ‘Yucca Mountain license application’

READ THE NRC’S REDACTED KEY YUCCA REVIEW REPORT

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report – Appendix A

 


Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report – Volume 2




Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report – Volume 3

 

TOWNHALL Q&A: CALIFORNIA CONGRESSMAN DEVIN NUNES: CHARTING A NUCLEAR ROADMAP — EXPEDITED LICENSING, SMR FAST-TRACK, AND YUCCA FEDCORP

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
December 14, 2010

 

Congressman Devin Nunes, a five-term representative from the San Joaquin Valley, has taken a special interest in nuclear energy. Representing Fresno and its surrounding agricultural region, Nunes has been particularly supportive of a proposal by a local business group to build a reactor in Fresno. Standing in their way, however, is the California law saying that no new reactors can be built until a national nuclear waste repository has been established. The Congressman sees this as a usurpation of federal authority and would like to see it changed. Last July he introduced an Energy Roadmap Bill, a companion to Rep. Paul Ryan’s  “Roadmap for America’s Future,” with Rep. Ryan co-sponsoring the bill. Now he is working on another piece of legislation aimed at expediting the nuclear revival. In the middle of all this he just published his first book, Restoring the Republic. We asked him about the prospects for nuclear.
 
NTH:  In general, how do you think we’re doing at reviving nuclear energy in this country?
 
REP. NUNES:  Honestly, not very well. There is a desire from the private sector and many Americans, but there seems to be a lack of desire from Congress and the President. If we were going to be serious about fueling the nuclear industry, we must start with eliminating the bureaucratic logjam of the licensing and permitting process.
 
NTH:  Are you disturbed that the Nuclear Renaissance seems to be progressing so much more rapidly in other countries?
 
REP. NUNES:  It is disturbing but it doesn’t concern me. I think we can use it to our advantage. Americans hate to lose. A sweeping renaissance in other countries will help make the case to U.S. policymakers that America is being beaten by foreign competitors. Hopefully, that could speed up the American renaissance.
     
NTH:  What are the prospects for overriding that California law at the federal level?
 
REP. NUNES:  We don’t need to override state law to allow more nuclear plants to be built in California. We simply need the federal government to fulfill the requirement of the state law and open a national repository, which is something we all believe is important.
 
NTH:  Aside from the roadblock at Yucca, what are the biggest impediments to getting more reactors built right now?
 
REP. NUNES:  Today, the biggest impediment is the Obama Administration who, despite the rhetoric you hear, is actively blocking progress on permitting new reactors. The only path to new reactors is for Congress to remove all the regulatory obstacles that have been put in place. When I re-introduce my Energy Roadmap next Congress, it will include a clear path forward that will prevent bureaucratic roadblocks.   
 
NTH:  In your new bill you suggest putting a 25 month time limit on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review of new applications. Is there any precedent for this? 
 
REP. NUNES:  Industry experts believe that with the processes laid out in the new version of the Energy Roadmap, a 25 month timeframe is completely reasonable. The United Kingdom already uses an 18-month schedule.
 
NTH:  Will this mean increasing appropriations for the NRC?  What will you respond when people say you’re just overriding safety concerns?
 
REP. NUNES:  While the new version of the Energy Roadmap requires the NRC to report back to Congress on their financial needs to comply with the new law, I don’t believe it will be necessary to increase funding for the NRC. If you streamline the regulatory process, NRC staff will not have to comply with arcane rules and will be able to spend more time focused on the merits of the application. On the safety concerns, the NRC will still have two years to review an application. If safety concerns can’t be identified in two years, the problem isn’t in the process but rather in the staff reviewing the application.
 
NTH:  You also propose turning Yucca Mountain over to a national government corporation. How would this work?
 
REP NUNES:  Basically, we would create a quasi-government corporation that would have autonomy to operate Yucca Mountain while still being regulated by the appropriate agency. This would provide the corporation the flexibility to manage Yucca with speed and efficiency. In the case of Yucca, the State of Nevada would be given a majority stake in the corporation. The corporation would manage the waste stream, the storage space, and set appropriate storage fees that don’t exceed operating costs.
 
NTH:  Finally there are provisions for accelerating the development of small modular reactors. Does this mean placing an even bigger burden on the NRC?
 
REP. NUNES:  That really isn’t known. That’s why I included a provision in the new Energy Roadmap that requires the NRC to report back to Congress on the resources it needs to meet the one-year timeframe to develop a path forward on modular reactors.
 
NTH:  What’s the sentiment about nuclear among newly elected Republicans and Tea Party representatives?  Have you had the chance to sound any of them out?
 
NUNES:  Yes, I have had a lot of positive feedback from my current colleagues and many from the incoming freshman class. They clearly understand the practicality of nuclear power and see it as the fastest way to put cheap, reliable and emission free power on the grid.
 
NTH:   With the big emphasis on cutting spending, isn’t it possible that some Republicans will want to eliminate the federal loan guarantees for new reactors?  Can the Renaissance proceed without that kind of help?
 
REP. NUNES:  While it is useful, I do not believe a federal loan guarantee is the lynchpin to a nuclear renaissance. The need for a loan guarantee is mainly based on a lack of confidence in the licensing and permitting process. If Congress is able to provide sufficient regulatory reform and waste confidence, a renaissance can still proceed independent of the federal loan guarantee program.
 
NTH:  Altogether, what’s your take on the 112th Congress?  Are you optimistic or do you think we’re headed for gridlock?
 
NUNES:  It remains to be seen. I’m optimistic that progress can be made on many issues including national energy policy. Everything depends on a willingness to debate the facts.
 
NTH:  Thanks very much for your time.

NRC’S ASLB DECISION: 453 days AND COUNTING

Friday, November 19th, 2010

[month] [monthday], [year]
Nuclear Townhall
 
As the legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite might have put it:
 
And that’s the way it is, [weekday], [month] [monthday], [counter date=2010/06/29] [after] [elapsed-dtimer] into captivity[/counter] of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision on its review of the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s unanimous rejection of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain project license withdrawal request.
 
In a process that has been defined by days and even hours for the most part, it is now [counter date=2010/06/29] [after] [elapsed-dtimer] [/counter] and counting since the ASLB’s June 29 ruling and the initiation of the Commission’s review of the lower panel’s decision. The full Commission, which has now had the matter under consideration over parts of six calendar months, has more than trebled the 39 days it initially provided to the ASLB to sift through considerably more complicated issues.  Meanwhile the U.S. Court of Appeals, which was scheduled to begin oral arguments on September 23 on an avalanche of legal contentions now filed on the Yucca Mountain issue, has put a hold on the proceedings awaiting a Commission determination.
 
Notwithstanding the NRC Commission impasse, on September 30, the U.S. Department of Energy closed the doors of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which is responsible for the license application.  Just days later, perhaps putting the cart before the horse, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko ordered the agency’s review of the Yucca Mountain license application stopped.  The handling of the latter matter is now under scrutiny by Jaczko’s own Inspector General and is expected to be the subject of oversight hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress.
 
Meanwhile, what is known at this point is that all four Commission votes are filed with Commissioner Kristine Svinicki recording hers on August 25; Jaczko was last in on October 29 in a maneuver seen by some as a delaying action to ensure that a possible affirmation of the ASLB decision would not surface in the re-election contest of mentor and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who ultimately prevailed in a hard-fought campaign.  Commissioner George Apostolakis has recused himself from the issue.
 
No Commission affirmation session, which would codify any Commission verdict, is slated for this week, according to longtime NRC watchers.
 
As Walter Cronkite might have also put it:  
 
Stay tuned to this channels for further updates.

NRC’S ASLB DECISION: 234 days AND COUNTING

Friday, November 19th, 2010

[month] [monthday], [year]
Nuclear Townhall
 
As the legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite might have put it:
 
And that’s the way it is, [weekday], [month] [monthday], [counter date=2010/06/29] [after] [elapsed-dtimer] into captivity[/counter] of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision on its review of the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s unanimous rejection of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain project license withdrawal request.
 
In a process that has been defined by days and even hours for the most part, it is now [counter date=2010/06/29] [after] [elapsed-dtimer] [/counter] and counting since the ASLB’s June 29 ruling and the initiation of the Commission’s review of the lower panel’s decision. The full Commission, which has now had the matter under consideration over parts of six calendar months, has more than trebled the 39 days it initially provided to the ASLB to sift through considerably more complicated issues.  Meanwhile the U.S. Court of Appeals, which was scheduled to begin oral arguments on September 23 on an avalanche of legal contentions now filed on the Yucca Mountain issue, has put a hold on the proceedings awaiting a Commission determination.
 
Notwithstanding the NRC Commission impasse, on September 30, the U.S. Department of Energy closed the doors of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which is responsible for the license application.  Just days later, perhaps putting the cart before the horse, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko ordered the agency’s review of the Yucca Mountain license application stopped.  The handling of the latter matter is now under scrutiny by Jaczko’s own Inspector General and is expected to be the subject of oversight hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress.
 
Meanwhile, what is known at this point is that all four Commission votes are filed with Commissioner Kristine Svinicki recording hers on August 25; Jaczko was last in on October 29 in a maneuver seen by some as a delaying action to ensure that a possible affirmation of the ASLB decision would not surface in the re-election contest of mentor and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who ultimately prevailed in a hard-fought campaign.  Commissioner George Apostolakis has recused himself from the issue.
 
No Commission affirmation session, which would codify any Commission verdict, is slated for this week, according to longtime NRC watchers.
 
As Walter Cronkite might have also put it:  
 
Stay tuned to this channels for further updates.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS TO FILE RESOLUTION CONDEMING JACZKO YUCCA REVIEW SHUTDOWN DECISION: CALL FOR RESUMPTION OF “LA”

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

U.S. House Republicans are planning to file a formal resolution “condemning” the “unilateral decision” of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko to terminate the agency’s Yucca Mountain project review in early October.  Jaczko says he based his decision on budgetary considerations emanating from the current stop-gap Fiscal Year 2011 continuing resolution, which is in place until December 3 and very likely to be extended into the next Congress.

The resolution will call on the NRC to “resume license activities immediately pending further direction from Congress.”
 
The action is expected to make note of the June 29th finding by the NRC’s Atomic Safety Licensing Board that the license application cannot be legally withdrawn under the provisions of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.  An appeal of the ASLB verdict remains pending in Commission chambers with Federal legal proceedings on the Obama Administration’s termination efforts on hold pending the outcome of the review.  The Republican resolution will also point out that no money has been provided by Congress to close-out the project; and the FY2011 continuing resolution provides no funding for any new activities by the NRC.
 
The resolution will also cite growing internal divisions within the Commission over Jaczko’s decision.
 
While the resolution is not expected to be taken up in the current post-election “lame-duck” session, Republican persistence in pressing Jaczko — in what has become a contentious, highly-personalized, increasingly one-sided flurry of missives aimed at the beleaguered NRC Chairman over the decision – is indicative of rock-solid support among House Republicans, who take over the chamber in January, to restart the national repository program.

NRC’S ASLB DECISION: 142 DAYS AND COUNTING

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

November 18, 2010
Nuclear Townhall
 

As the legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite might have put it:
 
And that’s the way it is, Tuesday, November 16, the 142st day of captivity for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision on its review of the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s unanimous rejection of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain project license withdrawal request.
 
In a process that has been defined by days and even hours for the most part, it is now 142 days and counting since the ASLB’s June 29 ruling and the initiation of the Commission’s review of the lower panel’s decision. The full Commission, which has now had the matter under consideration over parts of six calendar months, has more than trebled the 39 days it initially provided to the ASLB to sift through considerably more complicated issues.  Meanwhile the U.S. Court of Appeals, which was scheduled to begin oral arguments on September 23 on an avalanche of legal contentions now filed on the Yucca Mountain issue, has put a hold on the proceedings awaiting a Commission determination.
 
Notwithstanding the NRC Commission impasse, on September 30, the U.S. Department of Energy closed the doors of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which is responsible for the license application.  Just days later, perhaps putting the cart before the horse, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko ordered the agency’s review of the Yucca Mountain license application stopped.  The handling of the latter matter is now under scrutiny by Jaczko’s own Inspector General and is expected to be the subject of oversight hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress.
 
Meanwhile, what is known at this point is that all four Commission votes are filed with Commissioner Kristine Svinicki recording hers on August 25; Jaczcko was last in on October 29 in a maneuver seen by some as a delaying action to ensure that a possible affirmation of the ASLB decision would not surface in the re-election contest of mentor and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who ultimately prevailed in a hard-fought campaign.  Commissioner George Apostolakis has recused himself from the issue.
 
No Commission affirmation session, which would codify any Commission verdict, is slated for this week, according to longtime NRC watchers.
 
As Walter Cronkite might have also put it:  
 
Stay tuned to this channels for further updates.
 

INCOMING HOUSE BUDGET CHAIRMAN RYAN FIRES SALVO AT OMB OVER JACZKO YUCCA SHUT-DOWN

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Nuclear Townhall

November 17, 2010

 

In a foreshadowing of things to come in the new Congress, the soon-to-be Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), has asked the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for an explanation of the legal budgetary authority claimed by NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko in shutting down the agency’s Yucca Mountain review in early October.
 
“Despite the fact that the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution based on the Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations levels that are law, Chairman Jaczko is using President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal as the justification for his decision to halt the license review,” said Ryan.
 
The letter adds:  “As you know, the Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal was simply a request – it was never approved by Congress and does not have the force of law.”
 
The November 16, 2010 letter to Acting OMB Director Jeffrey Zients was also signed by the rising House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Rep. Mike Simpson (D-ID) a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

NRC’S ASLB DECISION: 141 DAYS AND COUNTING

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

November 17, 2010
Nuclear Townhall
 
As the legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite might have put it:
 
And that’s the way it is, Tuesday, November 16, the 141st day of captivity for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision on its review of the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s unanimous rejection of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain project license withdrawal request.
 
In a process that has been defined by days and even hours for the most part, it is now 141 days and counting since the ASLB’s June 29 ruling and the initiation of the Commission’s review of the lower panel’s decision. The full Commission, which has now had the matter under consideration over parts of six calendar months, has more than trebled the 39 days it initially provided to the ASLB to sift through considerably more complicated issues.  Meanwhile the U.S. Court of Appeals, which was scheduled to begin oral arguments on September 23 on an avalanche of legal contentions now filed on the Yucca Mountain issue, has put a hold on the proceedings awaiting a Commission determination.
 
Notwithstanding the NRC Commission impasse, on September 30, the U.S. Department of Energy closed the doors of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which is responsible for the license application.  Just days later, perhaps putting the cart before the horse, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko ordered the agency’s review of the Yucca Mountain license application stopped.  The handling of the latter matter is now under scrutiny by Jaczko’s own Inspector General and is expected to be the subject of oversight hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress.
 
Meanwhile, what is known at this point is that all four Commission votes are filed with Commissioner Kristine Svinicki recording hers on August 25; Jaczcko was last in on October 29 in a maneuver seen by some as a delaying action to ensure that a possible affirmation of the ASLB decision would not surface in the re-election contest of mentor and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who ultimately prevailed in a hard-fought campaign.  Commissioner George Apostolakis has recused himself from the issue.
 
No Commission affirmation session, which would codify any Commission verdict, is slated for this week, according to longtime NRC watchers.
 
As Walter Cronkite might have also put it:  
 
Stay tuned to this channels for further updates.

 

SENIOR HOUSE REPUBLICAN ENERGY LEADERS CALL FOR INVESTIGATION OF NRC CHAIR

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Two leading House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking Republicans — Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) have asked the NRC Inspector General to "convene a formal investigation" into U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko‘s recent unilateral directive to shut down the Yucca Mountain project license application review.

In an October 19th letter to NRC Inspector General Hubert Bell, the Congressmen cited concern over news reports indicating that "Chairman Gregory Jaczko is delaying a ruling on whether the Department of Energy has the legal authority to withdraw the license for the Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada" and insinuated the Chairman is "playing political games" with the issue.

"… the actions by the Chairman make us concerned that he has overstepped his authority by making a decision to terminate the review of the license application based on his FY 2011 budget request, which has yet to be approved by Congress."

Noting Congress’ longstanding support for Yucca Mountain and a $9 billion investment by taxpayers as well as $50 billion in potential legal exposure through delays , the Congressmen said: "we are concerned that this unilateral decision by the Chairman is undermining the intent of the Congress and possibly the Commission, as it is our understanding that at least on Commission member has issued a memo detailing his objections to the Chairman’s actions."

The text of the full letter follows.

 

October 19, 2010

Mr. Hubert T. Bell
Inspector General of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
11545 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD   20852

Dear Mr. Bell,

Recent news reports have indicated that Chairman Gregory Jaczko is delaying a ruling on whether the Department of Energy has the legal authority to withdraw the license for the Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada.  Because of these reports, we are asking you to convene a formal investigation into the Chairman’s recent actions to shut down the project.

As you know, Yucca Mountain was designated as the nuclear waste repository by the United States Congress in legislation signed by the President as part of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA), as amended in 1987.  In 2002, Congress passed a Joint Resolution reaffirming the site as the country’s nuclear waste repository.  Despite these actions and the fact that Congress to date has continued to provide funding for Yucca Mountain, the actions by the Chairman make us concerned that he has overstepped his authority by making a decision to terminate the review of the license application based on his FY 2011 budget request, which has yet to be approved by Congress.  We are concerned that this unilateral decision by the Chairman is undermining the intent of the Congress and possibly the Commission, as it is our understanding that at least on Commission member has issued a memo detailing his objections to the Chairman’s actions.

Countless times Congress has reaffirmed that we must have a permanent storage site to protect the public and the environment, as well as to continue to develop nuclear power in the United States.  Nuclear power accounts for twenty percent of our electricity supply and is expected to grow substantially in the next several decades.  Additionally, the average nuclear plant generates approximately $430 million in the local community and the operation of a nuclear plant creates 400 to 700 permanent jobs.  Any delay to advance nuclear power places our economy and national security at risk.  Playing political games with this issue, which has been suggested in the news, has already cost taxpayers $1 billion through lawsuits filed and that number is expected to increase to over $50 billion in the next twenty years, not to mention that the federal government has already spent $9 billion constructing the Yucca Mountain project and this would be wasted money.  At a time when we have a nearly $14 trillion debt, these actions are unwise and deserve your attention.  Therefore, we appreciate your fair and expedited review of the Chairman’s actions and this situation.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Fred Upton                    Ed Whitfield
Member of Congress    Member of Congress