Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nevada AG challenges Yucca Mountain application

A day after the Bush administration dropped its 17-volume Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository application at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's door, Nevada challenged the bid to build at the site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said today the Energy Department submitted "an unauthorized and legally deficient" license application. She asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in a 36-page brief, not to schedule the license application for a hearing that could last four years.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced the application would stand up to challenges from "anywhere" on Tuesday.

In Washington, my colleague Lisa Mascaro reports that the Nevada congressional delegation promised today to send a letter to the commission asking that it immediately reject the application.

Meanwhile, a coalition Yucca Mountain advocates that includes of public utility commissioners and waste haulers, said in Washington they believe this week's action will open a new phase of support for the Nevada repository in Washington.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has to decide whether the proposed

repository design would protect public health, safety and the environment

for up to a million years.

Nevada's petition notes that the license application submitted by the Energy

Department is six years overdue and "completely unauthorized."

By law the application was due by October 2002, Cortez Masto said. Congress overrode a veto by then Gov. Kenny Guinn on July 10, 2002, approving President Bush's selection of Yucca Mountain. The Energy Department then had 90 days to submit its application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

A month later a federal appeals court said the Environmental Protection Agency radiation standard did not protect the public lng enough.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has 120 days, or four months, for an initial review of the application.

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