The US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ordered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resume its review of a construction license application for a used nuclear fuel disposal facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
The Department of Energy filed an application to build the repository at Yucca Mountain, around 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas in 2008, after over three decades of studying the site. However, in 2010 President Obama stopped the license review and empanelled a blue ribbon commission to recommend a new policy for the long-term management of used fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The regulator subsequently terminated all licensing activities in 2011.
Commenting on the news the industry body the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) said: "The nuclear energy industry fully expects the NRC to take all necessary steps to immediately resume its independent scientific evaluation of the Yucca Mountain license application, as directed by the court. Similarly, the Energy Department must renew its efforts on this project and fully support the licensing process."
The Nuclear Energy Institute also called for congress to provide "appropriate funding" for completion of the review.
"Consumers of electricity generated by America's 100 reactors, who have contributed nearly $35 billion in fees and interest to the federal government specifically for used nuclear fuel management, deserve to know whether Yucca Mountain is a safe site for the permanent disposal of used nuclear fuel," it said.
If built the Yucca Mountain repository would hold around 77,000 tons of high-level waste.
Photo: Yucca Mountain (Source: US NRC)