Termination of Yucca Mountain had no scientific basis, report says

9 June 2011

An 8 June report from the US Committee on Science, Space, and Technology concludes that the US Administration’s decision to shutdown the Yucca Mountain project had no scientific basis.

Not a single document provided to the committee by the Department of Energy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found that Yucca Mountain was not safe or viable, the report states.

The 40-member SST committee, made up of 23 Republican members and 17 Democrats, is headed by chairman Ralph Hall, a Republican congressman from Texas. It has been examining the issue of Yucca Mountain for the past two-and–a-half years.

“The findings are striking,” Hall says. “Despite proclamations from the Administration that its policy decisions are based on principles of scientific integrity and transparent process, this report highlights that the decision to shutdown Yucca Mountain had no scientific basis.”

Over a 30-month period the committee has examined documentation relating to the Yucca Mountain project. Most noteworthy is the 695-page Volume III of the NRC’s safety evaluation report (SER), which the committee says: “demonstrates in excruciating detail the level of technical support among NRC and Department of Energy (DOE) experts in favor of the site’s advancement.”

The specific safety issues that were studied in detail to support this review, were according to the committee report:

? Short-term atmospheric changes to the desert environment

? Long-term atmospheric changes to the desert environment

? Volcanic activity

? Earthquakes

? Meteor impacts

? Improper manufacture of waste packages

? Improper loading of waste packages

? Drip-shield corrosion

? Drip-shield failure

? Human intrusion post-closure

“The NRC staff review of DOE’s Yucca Mountain License Application detailed in SER III agreed overwhelmingly with DOE on the scientific and technical issues associated with the site, ultimately concluding that the application complies with applicable NRC safety regulations necessary for the site to proceed to licensing for construction,” the report concludes.

The SST report also criticizes the DOE’s management of the closure of the Yucca Mountain Project saying that it did not develop a plan for the project’s shutdown nor fund a records management plan in a timely fashion. The committee said it was concerned, therefore, about data retention.

Finally, the report strongly urges the Administration provide to Congress the relevant and necessary information related to the Yucca Mountain decision process, allow formal completion of the Safety Evaluation Reports, and bring the DOE’s Motion to Withdraw its license application to a vote before the full Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

FilesReactor-by-reactor Fukushima Daiichi restoration progress summary as of 10 June, from JAIF
Fukushima Daiichi parameters as of 9 June by JANTI

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