US energy secretary Samuel W. Bodman is to deliver a bill to Congress setting out the national commitment to the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository project.

Among the various provisions within the bill, the proposed legislation would withdraw permanently from public use the land at and surrounding the Yucca Mountain repository site in Nevada, and would facilitate Congress’s ability to provide adequate funding for the Yucca Mountain Project.

Permanent withdrawal is needed to meet a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing requirement for the Yucca Mountain repository, the DoE says, adding that funding reform is necessary to correct a technical budgetary problem that has acted as a disincentive to adequate funding.

The proposed legislation would also eliminate the current statutory 70,000 tonne cap on disposal capacity at Yucca Mountain, in order to allow maximum use of the mountain’s true technical capacity.

Also included are provisions for a more streamlined NRC licensing process, and for initiation of infrastructure activities, including safety and other upgrades and rail line construction, to enable earlier start-up of operations. Other provisions are designed to consolidate duplicative environmental reviews.

“The Yucca Mountain repository is critical to the nation’s current and future energy and national security needs, and I look forward to working with the Congress on developing a bill that can be passed by Congress and signed by the President,” said Bodman.

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