5 October 2007 -- The proposed nuclear-waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada will need up to three times its current funding or the program's 2017 opening date will have to be delayed, the Associated Press reported.
Edward F. Sproat III, director of the Department of Energy's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, was quoted as saying that beginning next year a doubling or tripling of annual project funding would be needed. He made the remarks in congressional testimony.
The cost of building and operating the nuclear waste site through 2119 was estimated in 2001 at $57.5 billion, including costs incurred since the project began in 1983. A revised estimate expected by the end of this year will include the cost of accepting about 30 percent more spent nuclear fuel through the repository's closing in 2133, Sproat said.
Without increased funding, Sproat said, it will not be possible to set a credible opening date for the nuclear waste repository and the government's financial liability will continue to grow.
Yucca Mountain was designated in the 1980s as the country's nuclear waste repository and the Energy Department was required to open the Nevada site by 1998. The project has been delayed by lawsuits and other controversy. The earliest possible opening date is 2017.
The program has spent $11 billion in 2000 constant dollars since 1983, Sproat said. Litigation settlements or damages related to Yucca Mountain are paid from a separate taxpayer-subsidized fund. The estimated current potential liability is about $7 billion if operations begin in 2017.