The Nuclear Regulatory Commission received an application today from the U.S. Department of Energy for a license to construct the nation’s first geologic repository for high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nev.
“We are ready to get to work on this challenging review,” said NRC Chairman Dale E. Klein. “Congress has given the NRC a strict timetable for reviewing this application, and I want to assure the American people that we will perform an independent, rigorous and thorough examination to determine whether the repository can safely house the nation’s high-level waste. The NRC’s licensing decision will be based entirely on the technical merits.”
The NRC will now begin a docketing review to determine whether the application is sufficiently complete to initiate a formal licensing review. If the application is deemed sufficiently complete, the agency will formally docket the application and publish a notice of opportunity to request a hearing before the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. A decision to docket the application for review would not preclude the NRC from requesting additional information or documentation from DOE during the review. If the NRC dockets the application, it will announce at that time the extent to which it will adopt DOE’s Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed repository.
Formal docketing of the application will trigger a three-year schedule set by Congress for the NRC to determine whether to authorize construction. Congress has given the NRC an option to request a one-year extension, and the agency expects to need a fourth year. The NRC expects to meet this schedule, subject to Congress providing sufficient resources in a timely manner.