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Federal court ruling means Yucca Mountain project is dead, according to Friends of the Earth

Posted Aug. 13, 2013 / Posted by: Adam Russell

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its long-awaited ruling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review of Yucca Mountain as a permanent repository for nuclear waste. The ruling, according to Friends of the Earth, means that the Yucca Mountain project is dead once the last funds held for the NRC license review are spent.

The D.C. Circuit Court compelled the Commission to proceed with its review while noting that sufficient funds are not available to complete the review. "In reality, this ruling will have no effect on the nation’s nuclear waste disposition program and will only force the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to waste $11.1 million tax dollars on a dead-end project," said Katherine Fuchs, Nuclear Subsidies Campaigner with Friends of the Earth. "The NRC will quickly spend the remaining funds and then Congress must go back to the drawing board to develop new laws on how highly radioactive spent fuel is managed."

The Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013 would not exclude a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain; however, the bill was born out of the Senate’s frustration with the Yucca Mountain project and doubt about whether the Department of Energy will ever succeed in opening a permanent repository for the nation’s nuclear waste.

While Friends of the Earth opposes the Yucca Mountain project due to technical problems with the site’s geology, it calls on Congress and the Obama administration to seriously engage the issue of nuclear waste. “Spent nuclear fuel should be moved out of cooling pools and into hardened on-site storage as soon as possible,” commented Friends of the Earth Southeastern nuclear campaigner Tom Clements.

Mr. Clements went on to say that “the government should not waste any more time or tax dollars on the doomed Yucca project. Instead, there should be a real national conversation about how to move forward with the selection of a repository site for the deadly waste generated by nuclear power and only with consent of the states in which sites are being considered.”

In his dissenting opinion, Chief Judge Merrick Garland registered his displeasure with the ruling saying that it amounts to "little more than ordering the commission to spend part of those funds unpacking its boxes, and the remainder packing them up again." He also elaborated that “granting the writ in this case will indeed direct the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do ‘a useless thing.’”

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Contact:
Tom Clements (803) 240-7268, tclements@foe.org
Katherine Fuchs (202) 222-0723, kfuchs@foe.org

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