WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) today released a General Accounting Office report that concludes that, without congressional intervention, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission "may not resolve their differences" over radiation protection standards that would govern the proposed Yucca Mountain repository for used nuclear fuel. The report is entitled, "Radiation Standards: Scientific Basis Inconclusive, and EPA and NRC Disagreement Continues." The following is a statement by Joe F. Colvin, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer, commenting on the GAO findings.
"It is clear from the General Accounting Office report that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency have been and continue to be at loggerheads over the development of radiation protection standards for the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain. This regulatory stalemate is not serving the public interest, and the industry renews its call for Congress to resolve it by establishing a science-based radiation protection standard consistent with international levels.
"The nuclear energy industry is heartened that the General Accounting Office has identified and articulated this problem so clearly, and we appreciate Senator Domenici’s leadership in addressing this issue. The industry fervently hopes that Congress will recognize the value of the GAO assessment, and that the report will provide the impetus for Congress to act. The absence of a science-based radiation standard will only invite further troubles for a nuclear waste repository program that already is years behind schedule.
"Beyond the Yucca Mountain program, this longstanding impasse over a radiation protection standard affects federal facilities and the ultimate decommissioning of commercial nuclear power plants that help meet the nation’s electricity needs. The GAO report provides valuable insights on the challenges that can only be confronted safely, cost-effectively and in a timely manner by resolution of this problem."
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.