WASHINGTON—U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham today officially notified Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn and the state legislature that the department will recommend Yucca Mountain, Nev., to President George Bush as the site for underground disposal of used nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants and high-level waste from U.S. defense programs. The following comments on the notification are from Joe Colvin, president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute:
"The nuclear energy industry applauds this important step by the Department of Energy to help fulfill the federal government's obligation to safely isolate and dispose of used nuclear fuel. With nearly two decades of exhaustive analysis to support this action, the impending recommendation to the President that Yucca Mountain is a suitable site to build a state-of-the-art nuclear waste management facility is the right scientific thing to do.
"The nuclear industry manages its used nuclear fuel safely at power plants, but these facilities were not intended to be permanent storage facilities. Safely transporting nuclear waste from 35 states to one secure, specifically designed federal disposal facility underground is the best solution to protect our environment and our national security. Scientific consensus supports disposal of this material in a facility that provides multiple layers of protection for the public and the environment.
"As consumers, labor, business, policymakers and others recognize the vital role that nuclear energy plays in ensuring America's economic growth as well as energy and national security, support continues to grow for Yucca Mountain-the best solution to safely managing our nation's nuclear material and ensuring the same benefits of nuclear technologies for future generations."
Note: The Energy Department's notification to Nevada begins the final site approval process. A minimum of 30 days must pass before Secretary Abraham can recommend the Yucca Mountain site to the President. If the President approves the site, DOE must then file a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before it can build and operate the repository. Nevada, however, will have 60 days to object to the President's decision. If Nevada objects, Congress then would have 90 legislative days to vote on whether to support the President's decision and approve the site over Nevada's objection. Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives must vote on the matter.
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.