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NEI Statement on Senate EPW Hearing on Yucca Mountain

The following statement comes from NEI's Media Relations Department:
The U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works held a hearing today on the federal government’s program to dispose of used nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants and high-level radioactive waste from U.S. defense programs at a geologic repository planned for Yucca Mountain, Nev. The Nuclear Energy Institute’s chief nuclear officer, Marvin Fertel, made the following comments about the program.

“As the Department of Energy moves steadily closer to the submission of a license application for the planned Yucca Mountain repository to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, today’s hearing was an opportune time to note that there is some 20 years of solid science undergirding this program. Over the past two decades, billions of dollars have been spent on analyses of the repository site by many of our nation’s leading scientific experts. This analysis will continue during construction and operation of the repository so that public health and safety of future generations will be protected.

“Today’s hearing also was an appropriate time to note that, as early as 1957, the National Academy of Sciences recommended disposing radioactive waste in geologic formations. This is a project in which our nation can take great pride, because it is all about environmental stewardship. Through its hard work at this barren ridge in the Nevada desert, the United States is leading the worldwide efforts to develop geologic disposal facilities for high-level radioactive waste. This is literally the most studied site of its kind in the world.

“It is dismaying that today’s hearing was marred by factual inaccuracies that fly in the face of scientifically provable and measurable facts. It is fact, for example, that background radiation levels in Denver are well above the U.S. average of 300 millirem per year. It is not true that the Yucca Mountain project would lead to uncontrolled radiation exposures. And it is not true that the science at the project site has been manipulated. The nuclear industry believes it is important that these issues be settled based on a fair, thorough, impartial and open consideration of the facts. The Yucca Mountain licensing process will provide a rigorous and transparent examination of the scientific and technical facts in which opinions will be aired, vetted and accorded a full adjudicatory hearing.

“Ultimately, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will judge whether to approve the Department of Energy’s project. The key role for Congress to play – implementing its endorsement of the site’s suitability in 2002 – is to ensure that funds are available and appropriated in sufficient amounts for the Department of Energy to complete the work that it needs to in a timely fashion, and for the NRC to fulfill its safety mission. It is also appropriate for Congress to provide oversight at key points in the Yucca Mountain project development.

“Current national policy with regard to management of high-level radioactive waste was formulated in 1982 with enactment of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. This policy has been reaffirmed on several occasions since. Even under an integrated used nuclear fuel management approach that in the future may involve advanced reprocessing technologies, there always will be byproducts that require geologic disposal.”
For more on the industry's position on used nuclear fuel, click here.


Anonymous said…
Read the statements by Democrats Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton at:

Take a second look at Hillary's statement. Does NEI REALLY want HER to be President?

Contrast the Democrat's statements with those of the Republicans who testified.

Democrats will KILL Yucca Mountain.

Democrats will KILL nuclear power.

Vote Democrat and you vote AGAINST nuclear power.

It's that simple.
Joffan said…
Is anonymous' comment OK, according to moderation? I'm surprised it got published.

The more certain way to kill nuclear power is to make it a partisan issue. Democrats and Republicans will have power in Congress and the White House at different times. Nuclear power needs to work through both.

(And incidentally, Senator John Ensign (R-NV) said: "I firmly believe that a storage site at Yucca Mountain should not be built".)
Sovietologist said…
I'm not so sure. The fact of the matter is that Yucca Mountain is not necessarily the future of nuclear waste disposal, and I personally think that the nuclear industry should avoid banking their future on it. If Democratic opposition to Yucca Mountain can be transmuted into support for an aggressive research program into advanced nuclear fuel cycles, we'll all be better off than if we were stuck with the use of permanent geological repositories. This will only happen if Democratic politicians know that they have pro-nuclear supporters. So vote Democrat if you like, but make sure they know you're in favor of nuclear power!
Anonymous said…
Anyone who thinks Hillary! is a friend of the nuclear industry is whistling past the graveyard. She is against Yucca Mountain which, for all of it's shortcomings, may be the best we can do right now in managing the back end of the fuel cycle. She is actively campaigning to shut down the IPEC, which will cost the industry big time in terms of lost jobs and credibility, as well as being a boost to the anti-nuke cause. She was a behind-the-scenes influence in the decision to kill the IFR back in the 1990s, just when it was on the verge of completing a key milestone in the program. If Hillary! is elected, the industry will be moribund for another 20 years.
Anonymous said…
Hey Joffan, why is it that people can condemn the Repubs and deify the Dems and get thru moderation?

Isn't the reverse fair?

Truthfully, I want to see nuclear power prosper. Dems here at this forum who vote may favor nuke power, but their major candidates for the Presidency do NOT.

It's that simple.

BTW, there are Repubs for whom I wouldn't vote either, and my reasons have nothing to do with nuke power.

But I still want to see nuke power prosper.

And I am sick of seeing all this ingratiation going on for the liberal left when its leaders are committed against nuke power.

Repubs aren't much better, but generally they are still better (or less bad, depending on your point of view).

And true, nuke power shouldn't be a partisan issue, but it IS.

I didn't make it that way. Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid did. Republican Ensign is the exception to the rule. He likely wouldn't have gotten the Vegas vote without opposing Yucca. The majority of Repbs favor Yucca and reprocessing spent fuel, but the majority of Dems oppose both.

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