Friday, August 04, 2006

Yucca Mountain and Used Fuel Roundup

Yesterday's hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the Yucca Mountain Project has generated considerable coverage. Today, I'll be providing links to many of the relevant pieces, and also include other news on used fuel storage I've found in papers around the country.

Here's a good summary of yesterday's hearing from the AP:

A Senate committee chairman says the Bush administration's new timeline for opening the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada in 2017 ignores the possibility of lawsuits and delays.

"Experience has shown that the schedule for Yucca is a slippery thing," Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., told the project's new director Thursday.

"My concern is that the new timetable does not include any margin for any further project delays by the (Energy Department), its contractors, or legal action by the state of Nevada all of which would cause DOE to miss these new deadlines," Domenici said at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

[...]

The administration wants to lift the 77,000-ton storage cap on the dump 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas and allow as much waste as the mountain can safely hold - 132,000 tons or more.

If legislation making that change doesn't pass, "we will need a second repository in this country," Sproat said.
In April, EPRI issued a report that concluded that Yucca could up to nine times its current design capacity.

Back to the AP story:
Domenici said the solution also includes a new administration initiative to recycle nuclear waste, and an interim storage plan he's proposed.

Even if Yucca Mountain opens in 2017 it will take until 2040 to move the nuclear waste already accumulated into the dump, Domenici said.

"For those who don't think we need to address temporary storage: if everything goes perfectly, it will take over 30 years - longer than I have been in the Senate - to eliminate the existing backlog of spent fuel," said Domenici, elected in 1972.

Sproat has expressed doubts about the interim storage plan, saying it could take nearly as long to set it up as it would to begin moving waste to Yucca Mountain.
Through the Rutland Herald we learned that the Coalition of Northeast Governors have sent a letter to Senator Pete Domenici stating their opposition to language in the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill that makes provisions for interim storage of used nuclear fuel across the country. Click here for a copy of the letter. For some other regional looks at how the issue is playing out across the country, click here for a story from the Decatur Daily and here for a report on local approval for above-ground dry cask storage at the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania.

UPDATE: Testimony from Senator Harry Reid, Senator John Ensign and Geoff Fettus from NRDC are now available at the Senate Energy Web site.

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