Nuke agency looks at old Ne­vada site

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

WASHINGTON — The Nu­clear Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion is tak­ing steps to re­view the planned re­vival of the long-dor­mant nu­clear waste dump at Ne­vada’s Yucca Moun­tain.

On Tues­day, the nu­clear agency said it will spend up to $110,000 from its cur­rent bud­get to gather doc­u­ments and other in­for­ma­tion about the Yucca Moun­tain site, which Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion aban­doned in 2010. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has be­gun steps to re­vive the repos­i­tory site amid bi­par­ti­san op­po­si­tion from Ne­vada law­mak­ers.

The nu­clear agency said its pre­lim­i­nary ac­tiv­i­ties “will en­able ef­fi­cient, in­formed de­ci­sions” as of­fi­cials pre­pare to con­sider an ex­pected En­ergy Depart­ment ap­pli­ca­tion to store spent, radioactive fuel from the na­tion’s com­mer­cial nu­clear fleet at the re­mote site out­side Las Ve­gas.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, a Repub­li­can seen among the GOP’s most vul­ner­a­ble in­cum­bents in 2018, called the nu­clear agency’s ac­tion “ir­re­spon­si­ble” and “yet an­other waste of tax­payer money on a failed project that has al­ready cost the fed­eral gov­ern­ment bil­lions of dol­lars over the past 30 years.”

Demo­cratic Rep. Dina Ti­tus, a pos­si­ble Se­nate chal­lenger next year, crit­i­cized the nu­clear agency’s ac­tion as a way for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to “stack the deck against Ne­vada and … re­vive the un­work­able Yucca scheme.”

The En­ergy Depart­ment has dis­man­tled much of its in­fra­struc­ture re­lated to Yucca since 2010, with key per­son­nel re­tired or at new jobs and “truck­loads of re­lated re­sources and doc­u­ments” moved to fa­cil­i­ties across the coun­try, Ti­tus said.

Nu­clear Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion Chair­man Kris­tine Svinicki said the de­ci­sion to spend $110,000 in pre­vi­ously ap­pro­pri­ated funds was “not a re­sump­tion” of an ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­ceed­ing sus­pended by the agency in 2011. Rather the ac­tion launched “ap­pro­pri­ate steps to develop the agency’s readi­ness” to con­sider the Yucca Moun­tain project, if it pro­ceeds as ex­pected, she said.

Svinicki, a Repub­li­can, was named the nu­clear agency’s chair­man by Trump ear­lier this year and has served on the panel since 2008.

The nu­clear agency has es­ti­mated it would cost at least $330 mil­lion to com­plete a multi-year re­view of the Yucca Moun­tain project. The agency has re­quested $30 mil­lion for Yucca-re­lated costs in the bud­get year that be­gins Oct. 1.

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