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Policy

Safety Of Design For Nuclear Waste Repository Affirmed

by Jeff Johnson
October 27, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 43

The proposed design for the long-delayed Yucca Mountain underground nuclear waste repository is safe, according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) report released on Oct. 16. The safety evaluation is part of a multivolume series of reports required for the Nevada repository. The report concludes that the design would meet federal safety requirements after the repository is permanently closed. Nonetheless, the project is currently dead. Shortly after taking office in 2008, President Barack Obama ordered the Department of Energy to stop work on the project, and Congress has failed to provide adequate funding for NRC to complete its review. Last year, however, an appeals court ordered NRC to spend remaining funds, which led to the safety evaluation. NRC cautioned that its evaluation does not signal that it will authorize construction of the repository, which would require further regulatory reviews. In other news, NRC Chairwoman Allison M. Macfarlane announced last week that she will leave the commission at the end of the year and return to academia.

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