US President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget request has scaled back funding for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

Although it does not specify numbers, the budget, published on February 26, says: “The Yucca Mountain program will be scaled back to those costs necessary to answer enquiries from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, while the Administration devises a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal.”

The Department of Energy applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to begin construction on Yucca Mountain in June 2008. Yucca Mountain’s 2009 budget is $495m, to ‘continue development of the nuclear waste repository and support defense of the license application while under Nuclear Regulatory Commission review.’

In a May 20, 2007 letter to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Obama said that he objected to the Yucca Mountain repository because he felt every state should store its own waste in intermediate storage facilities. “After spending billions of dollars on the Yucca Mountain Project, there are still significant questions about whether nuclear waste can be safely stored there. I believe a better short-term solution is to store nuclear waste on-site at the reactors where it is produced, or at a designated facility in the state where it is produced, until we find a safe, long-term disposal solution that is based on sound science.

“In the meantime, I believe all spending on Yucca Mountain should be redirected to other uses, such as improving the safety and security of spent fuel at plant sites around the country and exploring other long-term disposal options.”

The budget request next goes to the US Congress for further discussion.

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