Nuclear waste sites to stay after project's end

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The U.S. Energy Department's decision to terminate Yucca Mountain will leave Georgia and South Carolina with their own permanent nuclear waste repositories, the project's former licensing manager told Augusta area stakeholders Wednesday.

"It means it is likely to stay here forever," said Joe Zeigler, who now works for Nye County, Nev., near the site of what was supposed to become the nation's permanent underground repository for spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste.

During a roundtable discussion organized by U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, Zeigler said the government's abrupt cancellation of the project was based on politics, and not science.

"A better opportunity than Yucca Mountain is unlikely," he said.

In 2002, Congress approved Yucca Mountain as the site of a national nuclear waste repository to be financed by companies and utilities that operated nuclear power programs.

More than $33 billion has been collected, of which $10 billion has been spent on Yucca Mountain.

Broun, who heads the House science and technology subcommittee on investigations and oversight, touted a new report released Wednesday as further evidence that halting the project was an inappropriate decision based solely on politics.

The report, he said, found that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko has not been forthright in his dealings with the public, or with members of Congress.

Jaczko is a former aide to Senate Majority Leader (and Yucca Mountain opponent) Harry Reid, of Nevada, Broun said, and failed to operate with the transparency, objectivity and attention to science his agency is obligated to consider.

"It has been exceedingly difficult to get details from the administration," Broun said during the panel discussion, held at Augusta State University.

The 39-page report, titled Yucca Mountain: the Adminis-tration's Impact on U.S. Nuclear Waste Policy , also found that of 1,500 comments on the suitability of Yucca Mountain for its designated purpose, only 20 were "not positive," Broun said. Those comments were simple recommendations to improve safety.

Among the report's findings were that Jaczko "inconsistently and arbitrarily substituted his own judgment on key policy decisions more appropriately considered and decided before the full commission."

In doing so, the report said, "he manipulated process to achieve his desired end: closure of the high-level waste program."

Broun said Jaczko should resign, echoing a similar statement last week by U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, of Idaho.

South Carolina and Georgia already rank among the nation's top 10 states in the amount of spent nuclear fuel stored at commercial power reactors, such as Plant Vogtle, according to a recent analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies.

The spectre of all that material remaining in this area, with no clear disposition path, is a cause of concern and could undermine confidence in the future of nuclear power -- and in the federal government, said David Jameson, the president of the SRS Community Reuse Organization, a five-county economic development consortium.

"The federal government has reneged on its promise to provide a permanent solution for nuclear waste," he said. "DOE's decision turns SRS and other sites into permanent nuclear waste storage sites."

Also participating in the discussion were Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver and representatives from Georgia Power, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and the Augusta Metro, North Augusta, Columbia County and Aiken chambers of commerce.

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Riverman1 06/08/11 - 01:53 pm
Put the stuff in copper

Put the stuff in copper containers and leave it in the back of pick-ups parked on Broad Street. It will be gone in no time.

"Yucca Mt by default." Another Riverism, I'm proud of.

JimR100 06/08/11 - 02:12 pm
Jaczko Needs To Go!!!!

Jaczko Needs To Go!!!! What the administration is doing to the Yucca Mountain Project is completely corrupt!!!

Dirty Harry "The War is Lost" Reid planted Gregory Jaczko (his former Science Advisor and he also worked for anti-nuke Ed Markey) on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (after holding up ~100 Bush appointees until Bush was forced to cave) and then pushed for him to be the Chairman of the NRC under Obama SPECIFICALLY so he could derail the NRC Review of the YMP License Application from the inside.

In addition, he got Steven Chu to flip-flop his position on the YMP (after signing with the other National Lab Leads that the YMR was the path to pursue) in order to gain appointment to the Secretary of Energy job (... So much for "Sound Science"...). Further, the sitting NRC Commissioners all had to agree not to challenge DOE's pulling of the License Application during their confirmation hearings in order to be confirmed.

All of these players and obstructionists are in violation of the LAW!!! Reid, Waxman, Jaczko, Chu, Berkley, Heller ALL need to be thrown out of their jobs… I’d even go further and have them arrested for violating FEDERAL LAW.

Further, the ongoing BRC effort is just one big stall tactic!!! Otherwise, the BRC members would have been permitted to include the Yucca Mountain Repository in their evaluation. I also do not buy into the allegation that the people of Nevada do not want the repository. Informal polls show 70 percent of Nevadans to be in favor of the state negotiating with the federal government to ascertain our safety concerns and determine what benefits might be available.

The NRC needs to be forced to release an unredacted version of the Post-Closure Safety Evaluation Report (SER Vol. 3) to the public so the people know what is going on... BTW -- Ask yourself this: Why would a redacted version of the Safety Evaluation Report be issued if it agreed with Harry Reid's position??? It wouldn't!!!! If the NRC's safety determination supported this administration's desire to shutdown the Yucca Mountain Project, they would be beating that drum like crazy!!!

In watching the hearing last week, Lyons (DOE) came off as an in-the-tank political hack and Bizerkley looked and acted like a deranged, incompetent, lunatic spewing nothing but misinformation about the project, which I'm sure the Subcommittee members saw right through... I pray she lays down on the railway tracks as promised!!!

I should add that as a former NRC Licensing Project Manager, I believe Jaczko's actions are completely destroying the NRC's credibility and reputation as a non-partisan regulator...

SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 06/09/11 - 08:44 am
Water infiltration problems,

Water infiltration problems, radiation release over time, and the necessity to protect the canisters in Yucca Mtn after 100 years may have been enough to prevent the licensing of Yucca Mountain. Were these critical issues addressed in the round table? Yucca Mountain was chosen due to politics and my die at the hand of politics and science so it's time to focus on secure on-site storage for the medium term. Boosters may need Yucca or another repository in order to push reprocessing of spent fuel at SRS but for now the costly and dirty reprocessing nightmare is in abeyance, which is very good news for the Aiken-Augusta area.

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