Further Actions Approved re Yucca Mountain Licensing Process

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved further actions related to its review of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) application for authorization to construct a high-level radioactive waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

In particular, the next steps involve information-gathering activities related to the suspended adjudication on the application.  The activities are intended to enable efficient, informed decisions in support of executing any further appropriations of funds for the High-Level Waste Program.

Overview  The Commission has directed agency staff to hold a virtual meeting of the Licensing Support Network Advisory Review Panel to provide information to, and gather input from, advisory panel members and the public regarding reconstitution of the Licensing Support Network (LSN) or a suitable replacement system.  Agency staff will also gather preliminary information regarding potential hearing venues.

The Commission limited expenditures for the information-gathering activities to $110,000 from the Nuclear Waste Fund.  As of June 30, 2017, NRC had approximately $634,000 in remaining unobligated Nuclear Waste Fund appropriations.

Background  The LSN was an online database of nearly 4 million documents created to allow various parties and the public access to information needed for the hearing on DOE’s request for a construction authorization for the Yucca Mountain repository.  The NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Boards (ASLB) had admitted nearly 300 contentions from various parties challenging aspects of DOE’s application.

In September 2011, the Yucca Mountain hearing was suspended and the LSN was decommissioned after Congress reduced funding.  At the time, the Commission directed agency staff to preserve the documents from the LSN within ADAMS.

Subsequently, in August 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the NRC to resume its review of the application using the remaining previously appropriated funds.  In response, NRC staff completed the Safety Evaluation Report (SER) in January 2015 and a supplement to DOE’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in May 2016.

The Commission’s Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM), Commission voting records and the staff’s proposal (COMSECY-17-0019) are available on the NRC website at www.nrc.gov.

For additional information, please contact David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.

Final Supplement Issued for
 Yucca Mountain EIS

In early May 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published the staff’s final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) supplement on a proposed permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.  The supplement analyzes potential impacts on groundwater and surface groundwater discharges and determines all impacts would be “small.”

Overview

The May 2016 NRC document that supplements Environmental Impact Statements that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) prepared on the proposed repository.  DOE issued the final EIS in 2002, then supplemented it in June 2008 when it submitted a construction authorization application to the NRC.

Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the NRC is to adopt DOE’s EIS to the extent practicable.  In September 2008, NRC staff recommended adoption of DOE’s Environmental Impact Statements, but noted the need to supplement the study of groundwater effects in the Yucca Mountain aquifer beyond DOE’s analyzed location at the site boundary.  DOE ultimately deferred to the NRC to prepare the supplement.

Background

In August 2015, NRC published a draft of the supplement for public comment.  (See LLW Notes, July/August 2016, pp. 28-29.)  During the 91-day comment period, NRC staff conducted public meetings to present the report and receive comments in Rockville, Maryland and in Las Vegas and Amargosa Valley, Nevada.

The NRC received more than 1,200 comments on the draft supplement, including comment letters and oral comments.  The NRC staff’s responses to these comments, and descriptions of changes made to the final report in response to comments, can be found in Appendix B of the supplement.

The supplement to the Yucca Mountain EIS is available on the NRC’s website at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr2184/.

For additional information, please contact David McIntyre of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.