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Nevada Sues Nrc over Yucca License

State claims federal agency has prejudged licensing process for nuclear waste facility

by Glenn Hess
September 8, 2005

Nevada has filed a lawsuit against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that accuses the agency of prejudging the outcome of the Department of Energy’s upcoming application for a license to open a nuclear waste disposal facility at Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. 

The suit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, charges that NRC unlawfully rejected the state’s March 1 petition challenging the so-called waste confidence rule. The regulation allows NRC to continue licensing new nuclear power plants and waste storage facilities with the expectation that a geologic repository for the disposal of nuclear waste will be available by 2025.

NRC’s 1990 rule was based on its determination that if Yucca Mountain were to fail to receive a license by a projected date of 2000, there would still be sufficient time—25 years—to locate, license, and construct an alternative repository. “The only way NRC can meet its requirement that a repository will be available by 2025 is to presume it will give Yucca a license,” Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval says. “For an ostensibly impartial regulator to make that prejudgment is simply unlawful.”

An NCR spokesman says the commission is committed to a fair and comprehensive review of DOE’s license application, which the department plans to file in March.


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