Timelines (please refresh page)

2015

August 28, 2015

 


Federal Register Notice - Draft Supplement To Environmental Impact Statements; Availability.
The NRC notified the public that the NRC staff has prepared a draft supplement to the Department of Energy's EISt on the proposed geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The draft supplement is available for public comment for 60 days from August 21 until October 20, 2015. -
Info on how to comment - (also see mtg) - please contact Christine Pineda at (301) 415-6789 or email the NRC at mail

 

March 12, 2015 NRC Staff to Prepare Supplement to Yucca Mountain Environmental Impact Statement
January 29, 2015 NRC has published Final Two Volumes of Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report - NRC Announcement Letter.
 

Dec 18: NRC Publishes Volume 4 of Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report .

Oct: NRC issues Volume 3 (NUREG-1949, Volume 3 PDF - 3.85 MB) of its safety evaluation report on the proposed underground geologic nculear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, NV.

2014

January 24, 2014 MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - Nevada seeks clarification that, should the adjudication be restarted and discovery resume, we will adjust the milestone for the proceeding calling for completion of discovery sixty days after the SER is issued. (Commission declines) ---( Motions and Pleadings) The Five Parties seek greater detail on the licensing activities than we set forth in CLI-13-8, as well as additional information that they believe will help them to assess the merits of the course of action we have selected. (Commission - "Our chosen path forward is consistent with the court's direction in Aiken County and the limited available funds, and further relief is not warranted." Read Memorandum and Order
January 15, 2014 Obama administration not following the law with regard to Yucca Mountain - The Obama administration has a history of selectively following the laws that it is charged with implementing and upholding. The Affordable Care Act is just the most recent egregious example, as the administration has on numerous occasions exempted or changed parts of the law that the President himself signed.
February 10, 2014 NRC sets next moves on Yucca Mountain - Responding to a court order but saying it is light in the wallet, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission set a limited course forward Monday to resume work on the Yucca Mountain project.
May 14, 2014 Kitty litter behind nuclear dump radiation leak in New Mexico? CARLSBAD, N.M. -- A mysterious radiation release that has indefinitely shuttered the federal government's only permanent nuclear waste dump may have been caused by a change in the type of kitty litter that is mixed with the toxic waste.
July 14, 2014 Votes in House Back Yucca Mountain Waste Repository - The Republican-controlled House broadly defeated two measures to kill the project Thursday, The Hill newspaper reported. Both amendments to an appropriations bill were introduced by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev. One would give the Department of Energy authority to remove the repository as a future option for waste storage. It was defeated 96-326. The other, defeated 75-344, would entirely cut next year's funding for spent fuel disposal, which Titus said would end up going toward the repository project.
August 28, 2014

Nevada legislators OK $1.4 million to fight Yucca - A panel of lawmakers on Wednesday approved nearly $1.4 million to continue Nevada's fight against Yucca Mountain despite the nuclear waste repository project being described by some critics as "the walking dead

October 8, 2014 Head of Nuclear Regulatory Commission resigns - Geologist Allison M. Macfarlane, chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, announced earlier this week that she plans to step down at the end of the year. Her new position will be as director of the Center for International Science and Technology Policy at George Washington University.
Nov 17:

 

Review breathes life into Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste site - A review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of the long-term safety of the Yucca Mountain repository for nuclear waste in Nevada has improved the chances that it may go ahead, despite the project being mothballed by the Obama administration back in 2010. The NRC's "safety evaluation report" concludes that the repository, if built, would "meet the applicable [NRC] performance objectives" for environmental impact once it is permanently closed. However, that report does not actually state whether the NRC should give the green light to the repository being built.

Dec 18:

NRC Publishes Volume 4 of Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report .

Oct: NRC issues Volume 3 (NUREG-1949, Volume 3 PDF - 3.85 MB) of its safety evaluation report on the proposed underground geologic nculear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, NV.

2013

November 21, 2013 MEMORANDUM AND ORDER On August 13, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision granting a writ of mandamus, and directing the NRC to resume the licensing process for the Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste repository construction authorization application. "We issued an order seeking comment from the participants in this adjudication as to how the agency should continue with the licensing process. Today we detail the course of action we have selected. "
August 13, 2013

United States Court of Appeals Decision
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT

On Petition for Writ of Mandamus - Decision

Jan 11, 2013: DOE sets new nuclear waste target date - The Department of Energy set a new 2048 target to open a burial site for nuclear waste - a deadline 50 years later than originally planned.
STRATEGY FOR THE MANAGEMENT AND DISPOSAL OF USED NUCLEAR FUEL AND HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE

2012

December 15: Scientization Of Politics: The Reason Yucca Mountain Was Cancelled - ....Years earlier, Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid, of Nevada, who was against nuclear waste in any desolate, safe, wasteland in the Nevada desert - classic Not In My Back Yard-ism - held up all of President Bush's executive branch nominations until Bush agreed to put his former aide Gregory Jaczko on the NRC. Why would anyone agree to do that? Well, the media climate was different then. When Republicans hold things up now, we get doomsday prophecies about a fiscal cliff and claims that they're doing it because they don't care about Kwanzaa. But when Democrats did it to Republicans, it was smart politics and completely justified, so Harry Reid was not called anti-science despite the fact that he denied decades of research by scientists to rationalize his personal belief.
Nov 11: Election hasn't changed Yucca Mountain's future — WASHINGTON - The election brought no dramatic shifts to the nuclear waste landscape, allowing Nevada leaders to shelve fears that big changes might have allowed the Yucca Mountain program to be resurrected — Stephens Washington Bureau
Oct 12: Prairie Island Indian Community Granted Federal Hearing in Fight against 40 Year Extension of Nuclear Waste Storage - in a filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Prairie Island Indian Community (PIIC) previewed issues it hopes to raise during an early November hearing with the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board – when the tribe will continue its fight against a 40-year extension of onsite nuclear waste storage on Prairie Island. Xcel Energy's initial Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) license expires on Oct. 19, 2013, and in the ongoing absence of a national waste repository like Yucca Mountain, the utility company has applied to extend onsite storage until 2053 – a move PIIC argues could put Minnesotans at considerable risk.
Sept 29: Entergy Sues Feds Over Nuclear Waste - The waste was to have gone to a waste depository, eventually identifeed as the storage site at Yucca Mountain, Nev. But the federal government defunded the Yucca Mountain project in 2011, fulfilling a promise of Obama's 2008 campaign.
August 4: Court Weighs an Order on Nuclear Waste Site in Nevada — A federal appeals court indicated Friday that it would issue an order for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resume an evaluation of a possible nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, a volcanic ridge in the Nevada desert, unless ... See all stories on this topic » Appeals court puts off ruling on Yucca Mountain The Associated Press Appeals court puts off ruling on Yucca Mountain.
June 13, 2012 New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that he has won a landmark victory in a suit against the NRC challenging a Commission finding that the long-term storage of radioactive waste at the nation's nuclear power plants is safe and has no adverse environmental impacts. This decision means that the NRC cannot license or re-license any nuclear power plant, including the Indian Point facility in Westchester County, until it examines the dangers and consequences of long-term on-site storage of nuclear waste.
June 10, 2012 N.R.C. Nomination Shines Spotlight on Waste-Disposal Issue — WASHINGTON — When the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meets on Wednesday to consider President Obama’s choice to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, three themes are likely to dominate the questioning: waste, waste and earthquakes
June 10, 2012 Moving From Square One on Nuclear Waste — The idea that the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada is dead has not gone down well in Congress, where some Republicans are trying to allocate new money to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission so it can revive its evaluation of the site’s suitability.
March 2012 US Senate bill would force nuclear waste fee rebate if Yucca not revived - Legislation introduced in the US Senate Monday would require the US president to certify within 30 days of the bill's passage that Nevada's Yucca Mountain remains the preferred site for a US nuclear waste repository. If the president fails to do so, all money in the Nuclear Waste Fund would be returned to utilities with 75% of that going back to utility customers, according to a statement Senator Lindsey Graham's office issued. The remainder would be used for upgrades at nuclear power plants storing spent fuel, it said.
March 2012 Gov. Sandoval Says Nevada Does Not Want Nuclear Waste, But New Poll Shows Support For Research Facility - Gov. Brian Sandoval sent a letter to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today making it clear that he does not support any type of nuclear waste disposal or interim storage at Yucca Mountain.
March 2012 Nye officials give consent to burying nuke waste - With the federal government embarking on a new "consent-based" search for someplace to dispose of nuclear waste, officials in Nye County sent a reminder this week that they still consent to burying it at Yucca Mountain.
March 2012 Nevadans Surveyed About Yucca Mountain - A new survey shows more Nevadans are in favor of opening up Yucca Mountain as an energy research park. Public Opinion Strategies surveyed 500 likely voters last month. Of them, 62% said they supported the created of a research park, for the study of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. 34% said the Yucca Mountain should be closed entirely, and 2% of respondents were undecided. In Washoe County, 60% of those surveyed are in support and 37% are opposed. In just Reno, 64% are in support, with 32% opposed. In Clark County, 61% of residents support it, with 36% opposed. 75% of rural residents supported the opening of the site, with 17% opposed. Among party registration, 73% of Republicans, 66% of Independents, and 50% of Democrats are in support of the research park. 70% of labor union house holds support creating the park, while 68% of teacher union members support it.
January 2012 Final BRC report - BRC Report to the Secretary of Energy
NRC Commission Decision Nov 2011 The NRC Commission denies NRC Staff appeal of CABís decision instructing parties to preserve LSN document collections and send copies to NRC for maintenance.
September 30, 2011 Suspension of Hearings – On Friday, September 30, 2011 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission filed an order suspending the licensing hearings – “Although we have been informed that the agency has current appropriated Fiscal Year 2011 Nuclear Waste Funds (NWFs) that could be carried over into the next fiscal year, there are no Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) positions (i.e., federal employee positions) requested in the President’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget for Yucca Mountain High-Level Waste activities. Therefore, because both future appropriated NWF dollars and FTEs for this proceeding are uncertain, and consistent with the Commission’s Memorandum and Order of September 9, 2011, this proceeding is suspended.

NRC Allows closure of Yucca Mountain - A divided Nuclear Regulatory Commission allowed the Obama administration to continue plans to close the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada.  The commission split, 2-2, on whether to uphold or reject a decision by an independent nuclear licensing board. The board voted last year to block the Energy Department from withdrawing its application for Yucca Mountain, a remote site 90 miles from Las Vegas. The licensing board said the government failed to make a scientific case for why the application should be withdrawn.  Despite the split vote, the NRC said in an order September 15, 2011 that the licensing board should continue steps to close out work on Yucca Mountain by the end of the month, citing "budgetary limitations."  The Energy Department has not requested additional funding for Yucca Mountain, and NRC spending on Yucca expires at the end of the month.
Commissioners Order
On June 30, 2010, the participants were invited to submit briefs as to whether the Commission should review, and reverse or uphold, the Board’s decision denying the Department of Energy’s motion to withdraw its construction authorization application with prejudice. Upon consideration of all filings in this matter, the Commission finds itself evenly divided on whether to take the affirmative action of overturning or upholding the Board’s decision.

Consistent with budgetary limitations, the Board has taken action to preserve information associated with this adjudication. In furtherance of this, we hereby exercise our inherent supervisory authority to direct the Board to, by the close of the current fiscal year, complete all necessary and appropriate case management activities, including disposal of all matters currently pending before it and comprehensively documenting the full history of the adjudicatory proceeding.

September 15, 2011

NRC Allows closure of Yucca Mountain -

A divided Nuclear Regulatory Commission allowed the Obama administration to continue plans to close the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nevada.

The commission split, 2-2, on whether to uphold or reject a decision by an independent nuclear licensing board. The board voted last year to block the Energy Department from withdrawing its application for Yucca Mountain, a remote site 90 miles from Las Vegas. The licensing board said the government failed to make a scientific case for why the application should be withdrawn.

Despite the split vote, the NRC said in an order September 15, 2011 that the licensing board should continue steps to close out work on Yucca Mountain by the end of the month, citing "budgetary limitations."

The Energy Department has not requested additional funding for Yucca Mountain, and NRC spending on Yucca expires at the end of the month.

Commissioners Order
On June 30, 2010, the participants were invited to submit briefs as to whether the Commission should review, and reverse or uphold, the Board’s decision denying the Department of Energy’s motion to withdraw its construction authorization application with prejudice. Upon consideration of all filings in this matter, the Commission finds itself evenly divided on whether to take the affirmative action of overturning or upholding the Board’s decision.

Consistent with budgetary limitations, the Board has taken action to preserve information associated with this adjudication. In furtherance of this, we hereby exercise our inherent supervisory authority to direct the Board to, by the close of the current fiscal year, complete all necessary and appropriate case management activities, including disposal of all matters currently pending before it and comprehensively documenting the full history of the adjudicatory proceeding.

August 2011

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has published in the NUREG series the first of three technical evaluation reports (TERs) detailing the agency staff's review of the Department of Energy's license application for a high-level waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Publication of the TER provides the staff's technical review of the postclosure information in the Yucca Mountain application. This TER does not include findings as to whether NRC's regulatory requirements have been satisfied.

Technical Evaluation Report on the Content of the U.S. Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain Repository License Application; Postclosure Volume: Repository Safety After Permanent Closure," is part of the agency's orderly closeout of the Yucca Mountain license review process and is intended as a public record of the staff's scientific and technical work in preparing for and reviewing the application. It was developed using the draft Volume 3 of the staff's Safety Evaluation Report on the application.

The TER was prepared as part of the agency's knowledge management activities during the closeout of the Yucca Mountain licensing review. The closeout, including publication of two additional TERs as NUREGs, is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2011. (http://www.nrc.gov/waste/hlw-disposal/yucca-lic-app.html ).

August 2011

GAO report - COMMERCIAL NUCLEAR WASTE-Effects of a Termination of the Yucca Mountain Repository Program and Lessons Learned. The US General Accounting Office. - "Just two years ago, the GAO estimated that the legal liabilities due to federal inaction on nuclear waste would be "about $12.3 billion in damages through 2020." So, over the last two years, the GAO's estimated legal hit to taxpayers has jumped by more than $3 billion."

July 2011

United States Court of Appeals FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT Argued March 22, 2011 Decided July 1, 2011 AIKEN COUNTY, PETITIONER On Petitions for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, Petitions for Extraordinary Relief, and Petitions for Review: Summary - A federal appeals court ruled on July 1st, 2011, that challenges to the Obama administration's decision to withdraw from developing the Yucca Mountain, Nev., nuclear waste repository were premature.

July 2011

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has published in the NUREG series the first of three technical evaluation reports (TERs) detailing the agency staff's review of the Department of Energy's license application for a high-level waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Publication of the TER provides the staff's technical review of the postclosure information in the Yucca Mountain application. This TER does not include findings as to whether NRC's regulatory requirements have been satisfied.

Technical Evaluation Report on the Content of the U.S. Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain Repository License Application; Postclosure Volume: Repository Safety After Permanent Closure," is part of the agency's orderly closeout of the Yucca Mountain license review process and is intended as a public record of the staff's scientific and technical work in preparing for and reviewing the application. It was developed using the draft Volume 3 of the staff's Safety Evaluation Report on the application.

The TER was prepared as part of the agency's knowledge management activities during the closeout of the Yucca Mountain licensing review. The closeout, including publication of two additional TERs as NUREGs, is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2011(http://www.nrc.gov/waste/hlw-disposal/yucca-lic-app.html ).

July 2011

United States Court of Appeals FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT Argued March 22, 2011 Decided July 1, 2011 AIKEN COUNTY, PETITIONER On Petitions for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, Petitions for Extraordinary Relief, and Petitions for Review: Summary - A federal appeals court ruled on July 1st, 2011, that challenges to the Obama administration's decision to withdraw from developing the Yucca Mountain, Nev., nuclear waste repository were premature.

May 2011 May 12: GAO report - COMMERCIAL NUCLEAR WASTE-Effects of a Termination of the Yucca Mountain Repository Program and Lessons Learned. The US General Accounting Office.

April 2011

United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) - Report to Congressional Requesters - GAO suggests that Congress consider whether a more predictable funding mechanism would enhance future efforts and whether an independent organization would be more effective. GAO also recommends that DOE assess remaining risks of the shutdown; create a plan to resume licensing if necessary; and report on federal property and its disposition. NRC concurred with the facts in a draft of this report, but DOE strongly disagreed with the draft and the recommendations, questioning the veracity of GAO's information. GAO continues to believe its findings and recommendations are sound.

COMMERCIAL NUCLEAR WASTE Effects of a Termination of the Yucca Mountain Repository Program and Lessons Learned. DOE NUCLEAR WASTE - Better Information Needed on Waste Storage at DOE Sites as a Result of Yucca Mountain Shutdown

April 2011

Staff Summary of Major Themes in Testimony and Comments Received by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to Date

February 2011

Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board Meeting transcripts Redacted copies of preliminary drafts of Volumes 2 and Volume 3 of the SER. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission released draft staff reports on the proposed Yucca Mountain repository but omitted any conclusions about whether the site would be safe for storing radioactive waste. Volume 3: Safety Evaluation Report Related to Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Wastes in a Geologic Repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada: Repository Safety After Permanent Closure

Volume 2 - Summarizes the results of the NRC staff's review of the Preclosure operations that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) described and provided in its June 3, 2008, license application, as updated on February 19, 2009, seeking an authorization to begin construction of a repository at Yucca Mountain.

February 17, 2011

On the NRC issued the following redacted copies of preliminary drafts of Volumes 2 and Volume 3 of the Safety Evaluation Report.

Safety Evaluation Report Related to Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Wastes in a Geologic Repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada Volume 1: General Information Safety Evaluation Report Related to Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Wastes in a Geologic Repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada Volume 3: Repository Safety After Permanent Closure

Volume 2 - Summarizes the results of the NRC staff's review of the Preclosure operations that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) described and provided in its June 3, 2008, license application, as updated on February 19, 2009, seeking an authorization to begin construction of a repository at Yucca Mountain.

March 23, 2011

- DOE Nuclear Waste: Better Information Needed on Waste Storage at DOE Sites as a Result of Yucca Mountain Shutdown GAO-11-230, Quick View     Summary (HTML)   Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 40 pages) Accessible Text  Recommendations (HTML)

April 2011  

Better Information Needed on Waste Storage at DOE Sites as a Result of Yucca Mountain Shutdown
A Staff Summary of Major Themes in Testimony and Comments Received
by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future to Date.

May 12, 2011

May 12: GAO report - COMMERCIAL NUCLEAR WASTE-Effects of a Termination of the Yucca Mountain Repository Program and Lessons Learned. The US General Accounting Office.

August 23, 2011

GAO report - COMMERCIAL NUCLEAR WASTE-Effects of a Termination of the Yucca Mountain Repository Program and Lessons Learned. The US General Accounting Office. - "Just two years ago, the GAO estimated that the legal liabilities due to federal inaction on nuclear waste would be "about $12.3 billion in damages through 2020." So, over the last two years, the GAO's estimated legal hit to taxpayers has jumped by more than $3 billion."

Timeline 2010
February 1, 2010

The Administration's Fiscal Year 201 1 Budget was announced and stated that in 2010, the DOE will discontinue its applications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to construct a high-level waste geological repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 201 1: Terminations, Reductions, and Savings, at 62 (Feb. 1, 2010). The budget further states that "all funding for development of the Yucca Mountain facility will be eliminated" for fiscal year 2011. DOE remains committed, however, to fulfilling its obligation to take possession and dispose of the nation's spent nuclear fuel and high-level nuclear waste, and DOE has established the Blue Ribbon Commission to review alternatives for such disposition.

February 1,2010

DOE filed with the NRC High Level Waste Hearing (HLWH) a motion to stay the licensing proceeding, pending "the disposition by the Board of any DOE motion under Section 2.107 filed within the next 30 days." The motion explained that DOE intended to move to withdraw the pending licensing application pursuant to 10 C.F.R. 9 2.107 within 30 days and that a stay would avoid unnecessary expenditure of resources by the Board, NRC, and other parties to the proceeding.

February 16,2010,

The NRC Licensing Board granted the stay motion pending resolution of DOE'S then-expected motion to withdraw the license application.

January 29, 2010  

At the direction of the President, the Secretary of Energy established the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, which will conduct a comprehensive review of, and consider alternatives for disposition of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. Congress had already endorsed creation of this Commission by appropriating $5 million in October 2009 for a Blue Ribbon Commission to evaluate and recommend such alternatives.

Charter of the Blue Ribbon Commission
Charter of the recently established Blue Ribbon Commission (which must issue recommendations within 24 months), makes clear that the Commission will consider solutions not only for commercial spent nuclear fuel but also for DOE high level waste that may provide a quicker solution than construction of a repository at Yucca Mountain. Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future Charter
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT The following consolidated cases were filed with the US Court of Appeals for District of Columbia
February 19, 2010

Petition for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Writ of Mandamus, filed seeking relief against the Department of Energy ("DOE"), Nuclear Regulatory Commission ("NRC"), and agency officials was filed in the US Court of Appeals and docketed as Aiken County, D.C. Cir. No. 10-1050

February 25, 2010  

Petition for review, docketed as Ferguson v. Obama, D.C. Cir. No. 10- 1052, was filed in the Court of appeals against the DOE and President Obama purporting to seek review of the "final action of the President and Secretary of Energy to abandon and not to proceed with plans to apply for and pursue a license for, and to construct, a repository for high level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain.”

February 26, 2010

South Carolina filed in the Fourth Circuit a "Petition for Review and Petition for Writ of Mandamus, Writ of Prohibition, Stay, and/or Declaratory and Injunctive Relief' naming as respondents the DOE, President Obama, the NRC, and agency officials; that case was transferred to the US Court of Appeals and docketed as South Carolina v. U.S. Dept of Energy, D.C. Cir. No. 1 0- 1 069.

March 24, 2010

Federal respondents filed a response to the petition

April 8, 2010,

The three petitions were consolidated and the US Court of Appeals ordered a response to motions to expedite filed by Ferguson and State of South Carolina petitioners.

April 2 and April 7, 2010

Petitioners in Ferguson and State of South Carolina filed motions to expedite briefing and consideration of the petitions in the US Court of Appeals. US Court of Appeals – Letter to Annette Vietti-Cook Secretary of the Commission U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission In the Matter of the U.S. Department of Energy (High-Level Waste Repository), Docket No. 63-001-HLW

April 14, 2010

US Court of Appeals – Letter to Secretary of the Commission NRC Commission In the Matter of DOE (High-Level Waste Repository)

(argument) Even if the NRC grants DOE's motion to withdraw, this would not give rise to a "genuine failure to act" claim because petitioners' are objecting to DOE's affirmative act of withdrawing the license application.

High Level Radioactive Waste Licensing Hearings
March 3, 2010

DOE filed a motion to withdraw the license application and five parties, including South Carolina and Aiken County, two of the petitioners in this Court, thereafter filed petitions to intervene in the NRC proceeding to oppose DOE's motion to withdraw.

March 5, 2010

The NRC CAB issued a scheduling order providing a due date for answers to the then-pending petitions to intervene and stating that the Board will set a time for responses to DOE's motion to withdraw after" resolving the petitions to intervene.

April 6, 2010

However, the NRC Licensing Board changed course and announced that it will withhold a decision on the petitions to intervene and DOE's motion to withdraw pending Court ruling on -the petitions. The Board deemed it more expedient for the US Court of Appeals to provide it guidance by deciding in the first instance whether DOE has authority to withdraw the license applications. The NRC Licensing Board's April 6 order, however, is an interlocutory order of an administrative hearing tribunal within the NRC and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission itself.

April 12, 2010

Just before the filing of the instant response - DOE filed a request for review of the Board's interlocutory order by the NRC Commission (the body with the final authority over NRC adjudications).

April 23, 2010

The NRC Commission vacated the Hearing Board’s Suspension Order and remanded the matter to the NRC Hearing Board for prompt resolution of DOE’s motion to withdraw. “We direct the Board to establish a briefing schedule on DOE’s motion to withdraw and issue a decision on that motion no later than June 1, 2010. The Board should continue case management and resolve all remaining issues promptly.”

April 27, 2010

The CAB Board responded to the NRC Commission directions stating they recognize their obligation to comply with the Commission’s direction but also …..”insofar as

Possible.” Also, that the complexity of the issues, the desirability of holding oral argument, and a previously-established filing date concerning a related issue render a decision by June 1, 2010 infeasible. Instead, in accordance with the Commission’s direction to resolve all pending matters expeditiously and responsibly, the Board will decide DOE’s motion to withdraw as soon as possible after June 1 and, in no event, later than June 30.

May 17th, 2010

Intervener’s responses to the CAB order regarding the DOE’s request to withdraw the License Application.

June 3 and 4

Hearing in Las Vegas regarding arguments related to the DOE’s request to withdraw the License Application and conference hearing to discuss the archiving of the LSN documentation.

June 29, 2010

NRC CAB rules on DOE’s request to withdraw the License Application. "We conclude that Congress directed both that DOE file the application and that the NRC consider the application and issue a final merits-based decision," the judges said. "Unless Congress directs otherwise, DOE may not single-handedly derail the legislated decision-making process by withdrawing the application." US Energy Department Loses Ruling To Terminate Yucca Mountain Licensing

July 28, 2010

US Appeals Court puts consideration of Yucca Mountain case on hold until July 2010

A US appeals court said Wednesday it would wait until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules on the Yucca Mountain appeal before the commission before it hears oral arguments in a lawsuit over the planned termination of the nuclear waste repository project.

August 10, 2010

Responses filed by the NRC Commissioners regarding the decision on the motion of the State of Washington, South Carolina, Aiken County, SC and White Pine County, Nevada. William Magwood denied movants request to recuse and William C. Ostendorft also declined to recuse himself from the proceeding. Commissioner Apostolakis has recused himself from the proceeding.

August 23, 2010

Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff issued its “Safety Evaluation Report Related to Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Wastes in a Geologic Repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, Volume 1: General Information” (NUREG-1949, Vol. 1).

October 4, 2010

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided to amend its “Waste Confidence Decision’’ to double the period when used nuclear fuel can be stored on site to 60 years instead of 30.  The commission also directed agency staff to begin analyzing the prospect of storing spent fuel at plants for up to 300 years or beyond.

October 3, 2010

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko directed NRC staff to terminate the technical review of the Yucca Mountain application.

An appeal to allow the DOE to withdraw its Yucca Mountain application has been pending since July, after a lower board rejected DOE's request.

December 2010

Court of Appeals lifts stay and sets expedited briefing schedule.

 

 

Historical timeline Starting in 1954 -

Key dates in the development of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository in Nevada - Source: DOE

1954  The Atomic Energy Act is passed by Congress directing the federal government to promote the peaceful use of atomic energy, with the understanding that disposal of the highly radioactive waste produced would be the responsibility of the federal government.

1956  The National Academy of Sciences recommends deep geologic disposal of the long-lived, highly radioactive wastes from nuclear reactors, suggesting that buried salt deposits and other rock types be investigated for permanent repositories.

1960  In the early 1960s, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) announces that a salt mine at Lyons, Kansas, will be developed as a high-level radioactive waste repository, only to reverse its decision after state geologists discover the site is riddled with abandoned oil and gas exploration boreholes.

1975  The Energy Research and Development Administration (formerly AEC) begins to search for a possible permanent repository for the nation's nuclear waste. A multiple site survey emphasizing buried salt deposits and federal nuclear facility sites is conducted in 36 states, including Nevada, but is reduced in scope due to decreased funding and political opposition from states.

1980  Deep geologic disposal is selected by the Department of Energy (formerly ERDA) in an Environmental Impact Statement as the preferred alternative for permanent disposal of commercial high-level nuclear waste.

1982  Congress passes Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA) which establishes a repository site screening process; requires two repositories to assure regional equity; sets a schedule leading to federal waste acceptance for disposal beginning in 1998; starts the Nuclear Waste Fund to pay for the waste program with fees collected on the generation of electricity from nuclear power plants; and requires that the repositories be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

1983  The DOE names nine previously screened potential repository sites in six states: seven in salt deposits and two on western federal nuclear facility sites (including the Nevada Test Site) in volcanic rock deposits. Critics claim the sites were recycled from the 1975 search, and that the NWPA requires DOE to conduct a new screening process rather than proceed with sites considered prior to the passage of the NWPA. DOE slows down its process to involve the states and federal agencies in a more consultative process.

1986  The DOE issues final Environmental Assessments and nominates five candidate repository sites from the original nine, and then selects three western sites -- in Nevada, Texas, and Washington -- for detailed investigation, from which one is to be selected for repository licensing.

1986  The DOE indefinitely postpones the second repository siting program, violating the regional equity intent of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, after much objection from states in the northern mid-west and east where potentially acceptable repository sites in granite are prohibited.

1987  Congress amends the NWPA, designating Yucca Mountain, Nevada as the sole repository site to be characterized. Two other sites are removed from consideration, the screening process for a second repository site is ended, and studies of repository sites in granite are prohibited.

1988  DOE holds public hearings on their site characterization plan for Yucca Mountain.

1991  Surface studies begin at the Yucca Mountain site

1993  DOE begins grading work on first phase of the Exploratory Studies Facility at the proposed repository site. DOE also formulates a new Program Approach that sets waste acceptance to begin in 2010, relies on DOE's development and distribution of Multi-Purpose Canisters to begin interim waste storage in 1998, sets a site characterization schedule which defers some work to a repository performance confirmation period lasting up to 100 years after waste emplacement begins.

1994  Portal entrance to the Exploratory Studies Facility is constructed and tunneling into Yucca Mountain begins. Critics charge that the portal ramps and entrance are constructed for use as a repository, not a study area.

1995  Tunnel boring machine makes progress into Yucca Mountain but encounters loose ground at various points. Five miles of tunnels are planned for the study area by 1996. Bills are pending in Congress that re-prioritize the waste program to emphasize interim waste storage and transportation, with site characterization as a lower priority.

1997  Thermal testing begins at Yucca Mountain. It is scheduled to take eight years.

1998  DOE fails to meet its January deadline for waste acceptance. Lawsuits are filed by states and the nuclear industry. Legislation that would put an interim storage facility on the Nevada Test Site dies in Congress. The Yucca Mountain Viability Assessment is released in December with DOE declaring the site "viable" but admitting that much work still needs to be done before the site can be officially recommended in 2001.

1999  Bills emphasizing interim spent fuel storage at the Nevada Test Site are again introduced in the US Congress with President Clinton vowing to veto any such legislation. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Yucca Mountain is released for public comment in August.

2000  Due to concerns that the EPA's role in setting radiation standards would be too limited, President Clinton again vetoes nuclear waste legislation passed by Congress. The site characterization project continues at Yucca Mountain as DOE prepares the Final Environmental Impact Statement and nears the point where suitability must ultimately be decided.

2001  EPA announces proposed radiation standards for Yucca Mountain. The State of Nevada files suit against the EPA, arguing the standards are inadequate. DOE is forced to investigate allegations of collusion between itself, its contractors, and the nuclear power industry to promote the repository. The release of the final Environmental Impact Statement is delayed until late 2001.

2002  Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham recommends Yucca Mountain as a suitable site to President George W. Bush. Bush approves the recommendation. Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn exercises the State's right to veto the Yucca Mountain project. The project moves to Congress, where a simple majority in both houses is needed to overturn Guinn's veto. Yucca Mountain is debated and passed first in the House of Representatives and then more narrowly in the Senate. President Bush signs the joint resolution into law, officially designating Yucca Mountain as the nation's nuclear waste repository site. DOE begins work on its application for a license to build and run the repository. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) identifies 293 technical issues DOE must solve before submitting the license application. The State of Nevada files major lawsuits against DOE, NRC, Bush, and Abraham.

2003  DOE continues work on its license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The project, however, is over-budget and behind schedule. Nevada's lawsuits against the Yucca Mountain repository are set for oral arguments in front of the D.C. Court of Appeals in January 2004. DOE is scheduled to release a nuclear waste transportation plan sometime in the fall.

2004  The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. throws out the EPA's 10,000 year radiation standard for Yucca Mountain, but dismisses Nevada's other lawsuits. The Department of Energy selects the southern Nevada Caliente corridor to build a rail line for shipping waste to Yucca Mountain (Carlin is named the alternative). Nevada files suit over the Caliente Rail Line. An NRC Board rules that DOE's Yucca Mountain public internet database (Licensing Support Network) is incomplete. It is uncertain whether DOE will submit its license application to the NRC in December as planned. An NRC Comissioner and other officials say a 2010 opening is unlikely.

January 2005: Energy Department unveils plan for aboveground nuclear waste storage of up to 46.3 million pounds.

March 2005: Energy Department says U.S. Geological Survey employees may have falsified documentation on quality assurance work.

May 2005: Federal judge denies Western Shoshone's lawsuit against project. Tribe cites sacredness of Mother Earth and rights under the Ruby Valley Treaty of 1863.

July 2006: Energy Department sets schedule for submitting license application to NRC by June 30, 2008.

March 2007: Energy Department blames disgruntled former U.S.G.S. scientists, senior managers for document falsification. Says changes made.

October 2007: Energy Department issues environmental studies. Certifies license application document database complete.

December 2007: Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel rejects Nevada challenge to database. Congress cuts Yucca Mountain budget to $390 million in fiscal 2008, $104 million less than Bush requested.

January 2008: Chief contractor Bechtel SAIC lays off Yucca Mountain workers.

May 2008: Energy Department awards $13.8 million contract to two firms to design waste canisters.

June 3, 2008: Energy Department submits application to Nuclear Regulatory Commission for license to build, operate Yucca Mountain.

The Yucca Mountain License Application is available on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's public Internet site