WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer, Frank L. (Skip) Bowman, made the following remarks today in response to the U.S. Department of Energy’s filing of a license application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the planned repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., for used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.
“This is a historic day for nuclear energy use worldwide. The filing of a license application for a geologic repository underneath a desert ridge at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, demonstrates that the United States is at the forefront of international efforts to safely manage used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the manner that the scientific community has recommended for decades.
“Symbolically, the significance of this undertaking of environmental stewardship cannot be overstated.
“The license application filing means that after two full decades of scientific study, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s independent technical evaluation of the repository site and the Department of Energy’s repository design finally will begin. While the development of a geologic repository is national policy dating back to 1982, the fact remains that the planned repository cannot be built or operate without explicit permission from the NRC. The nuclear energy industry commends the Energy Department and its Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management for an endeavor of world-class science.
“This begins a licensing process that will be significant, unprecedented and transparent to the public, with the state of Nevada, several affected units of local government and Indian tribes among its active participants. The Nuclear Energy Institute plans to take part as well. Given the national importance of the safe disposal of the radioactive byproducts from used nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants and U.S. defense programs, all stakeholders should support the licensing process being carried through to its final conclusion so that the NRC decision is based upon a thorough and objective evaluation of the facts.
“The nuclear energy industry views the repository as a key element of an integrated used fuel management program. This integrated strategy also should include interim storage of used fuel until reprocessing of used fuel or permanent disposal is available, although even with advanced reprocessing technologies being developed, there still will be some quantity of final waste products that will require long-term geologic disposal.
“As this process unfolds, Americans can and should be proud of our international leadership with regard to management of used fuel. Nuclear energy has more than proven its worth to our society by reliably generating vast amounts of the baseload electricity that undergirds our economy and uplifts Americans’ standard of living. The filing of this license application continues down a path to properly meet our obligation to future generations to safely and reliably manage the byproduct of this highly efficient form of electricity production.”