NRC doesn’t have funds to complete Yucca Mountain review

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission told lawmakers that regulators are moving to comply with a court ruling that revives plans for a spent nuclear fuel repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, according to The Hill.

However, NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane said in a statement to the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the NRC does not have enough cash in reserves to complete the safety evaluation report (SER) and the remaining steps in the licensing process, and no additional funds were requested or appropriated in fiscal year 2012 or fiscal year 2013. NRC suspended its review in 2011.

A federal appeals court ruled in August that the NRC was wrong when it stopped reviewing the application for the spent fuel site because it did not have the funds to continue. The majority vote said that Congress often appropriates money “on a step-by-step basis.”

However, some committee members said they were concerned that the NRC would stall the process.

“Here we are, nearly a month after the D.C. Circuit issued a writ of mandamus, and the NRC’s only action we’ve seen so far is to invite the parties to comment by September 30,” said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. “Electricity consumers and taxpayers have waited 30 years and paid $15 billion to find out whether out independent nuclear safety regulator concluded that Yucca Mountain would be safe or not. Releasing the SER is the next step in the NRC’s process.”

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