Appeals court to hear Yucca arguments

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Oral arguments in a lawsuit aimed at forcing the government to complete the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository will be heard today in the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals.

"In this case, existing law is very clear that Congress has mandated that the nation's high level nuclear waste shall be stored at the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada," said communications director Mark Plowden, of the South Carolina Attorney General's Office. "All of the states are in agreement, with the exception of Nevada."

The Yucca Mountain project near Las Vegas was being designed to accommodate 70,000 tons of waste from the nation's 104 commercial reactors -- including those at Plant Vogtle in Georgia -- which are generating about 2,000 tons of spent fuel each year. It was also to be the disposal site for radioactive material from 121 temporary sites, including Savannah River Site.

The project was halted more than a year ago when U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced he would create a panel to explore other options. He established the 15-member Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future to explore safe, effective nuclear waste alternatives.

The Court of Appeals will hear arguments that the law requires the Yucca Mountain facility to be completed and that the administration must follow the dictates of Congress, Plowden said.

South Carolina and Aiken County brought the original jurisdiction petition, as did the state of Washington, and three of its citizens. Ken Woodington is representing South Carolina. Tom Gottshall is representing Aiken.

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SteveMic 03/22/11 - 09:53 am
Last June, the NRC's Atomic

Last June, the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) rejected DOE's move to withdraw Yucca Mountain's license application.

"Unless Congress directs otherwise, the DOE may not single-handedly derail the legislated decision-making process by withdrawing the application. The DOE's motion must therefore be denied," the ASLB ruled.

The ALSB also noted that the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act had deliberately put ultimate siting authority with Congress and not with the President or the DOE.

Less than 24 hours after the ASLB's unanimous decision, in an unusual action, the NRC set immediate ground rules for an appeal of the decision. Those oral arguments begin today. Everyone with an interest in the future of nuclear energy in this country will be watching closely.

justus4 03/22/11 - 10:40 am
Yucca Mountain will never

Yucca Mountain will never happen. Nuclear waste transported there is a pipe dream costing millions to "study" while these sites are stacking up mega-tons of waste throughout the country. No administration has the answers because the answers do not exist, but each state and her citizens will ultimately find that out - better sooner than later.

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