The Nuclear Regulatory Commission took steps this week to begin the process of reviving the moribund Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.
NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki told Congress that the agency’s $952 million budget for 2018 includes $30 million for restarting the permitting process for the repository that was abandoned in 2011 under the Obama administration before it was completed.
- Svinicki also told NRC staff to review the restart of Yucca Mountain’s license application process, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
Yucca Mountain has become a political football, or hot potato. The site’s history goes back to a 1987 law. It was approved by Congress in 2002, but federal funding was withdrawn under the Obama administration in 2011 amid persistent opposition from Nevada lawmakers.
Now the Trump budget proppsal includes $120 million to restart the approval process for Yucca Mountain.
An April report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office puts the cost of reviving the nuclear waste repository at $330 million.
One of the biggest hurdles, the GAO said, would be rebuilding the staff at the Department of Energy that would be needed to move the permitting process forward. That division was disbanded after the project was abandoned under the Obama administration.
The project also faces local pushback. All but one of the state’s congressional delegation oppose the repository.
On March 16, the state's two U.S. senators, Dean Heller (R) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D), sent a letter to DOE stressing their opposition to the project.
"Gov. Sandoval has made clear the State of Nevada will contest over 200 elements of any license application, which would likely take years to resolve and cost federal government over $1.6 billion," the senators wrote.
"Washington needs to understand what Nevada has been saying for years: we will not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump," Heller said in a statement.