HOUSTON Aug 30 The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) on Friday said it will seek comments on how to
restart the licensing process for the long-stalled Yucca
Mountain nuclear waste project.
The request is the agency's first response to a federal
appeals court order issued Aug. 13 that said the NRC can no
longer delay a decision on whether to issue a permit for the
project that would bury nuclear waste inside Yucca Mountain in
the Nevada desert about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Las
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit ordered the NRC to license the
project or to reject the application.
Two states along with state regulators argued that the NRC
must continue to work on the Energy Department's Yucca
application even though the Obama administration has said it
wants to abandon the project and Congress has not appropriated
enough funds for it.
The NRC asked for comments to be filed by Sept. 30,
according to a news release. The commission is seeking the best
way to use the remaining $11 million it has to resume the
licensing process, which was suspended in September 2011, the
The commission directed its staff to gather budgeting
information during the 30-day comment period. It will review the
comments submitted by the parties as well as staff information
to decide how to move forward with the licensing process.
Following the court ruling, the Nuclear Energy Institute, an
industry trade group, said it expects the agency to take steps
to resume its independent scientific evaluation of the Yucca
Mountain license application.
Electricity consumers "who have contributed nearly $35
billion in fees and interest to the federal government
specifically for used nuclear fuel management, deserve to know
whether Yucca Mountain is a safe site for the permanent disposal
of used nuclear fuel," the NEI said.
The premature shutdown of five U.S. nuclear units at sites
in four states also increases the need for a repository for
spent nuclear fuel.
Exelon Corp, Duke Energy and Entergy Corp
are the largest operators of nuclear plants in the U.S.