More than fifty organizations today told the Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners that the Department of Energy (DOE) is abusing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal license application review process. In June 2008, DOE submitted an incomplete license application for the site, and has continued to make significant changes to the application since then. The groups urged the NRC to “reset the clock” and take steps to ensure that the public can effectively participate in the licensing process.
“DOE’s shenanigans are completely contrary to the NRC’s requirement that DOE submit a “complete” application,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service.
The NRC staff’s and other parties’ technical review of the 8,500 page, 16-volume, application officially began on October 22, 2008. Since its June submission, DOE has been continuously releasing new and recently revised supporting documentation and plans to amend the application as new documentation is developed.
The incomplete license application makes public participation in the process extraordinarily difficult and burdensome. Technical objections to the contents of the license application have to be submitted by mid-December 2008 in order to be considered in the hearing.
“It is extremely difficult to analyze the license application, because it is still being developed,” said Judy Treichel, executive director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force. “DOE should be required to actually complete the application before the public comments on it and before the NRC starts evaluating it. Why are we looking at an incomplete draft?”
The groups are asking that, each time the DOE files an amendment to its license application, the Commission should restart the 60-day clock for filing contentions. The adjudicatory hearing on the admitted issues is planned to start over a year from now, when the NRC staff completes its technical review. Congress mandated that the NRC decision of the application be made in three years after its submission by DOE, with a possible one-year extension.
“DOE is now over six years late in filing a complete application, a violation of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act that NRC has ignored while forcing dump opponents to speak now or forever hold their peace with a short sixty day deadline,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear. “How much more rigged against the public can this proceeding get?”
A copy of the groups’ letter to the NRC is posted at: http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/yucca/nrcltr1108.pdf