Republican News

Republican News

Sep 27 2006

Domenici Introduces NU-WAY Yucca Legislation Aimed at Putting Repository Back on Track

Bill consolidates defense waste at above-ground site at Yucca

 Washington, D.C.Senate Energy & Natural Resources Chairman Pete V. Domenici today introduced the Nuclear Waste Acceleration to Yucca bill, NU-WAY. The bill puts the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository back on track by authorizing the land withdrawal and the construction of infrastructure needed at the repository.
 
The bill, cosponsored by Sen. Larry Craig, R-ID, also authorizes DOE to begin moving defense fuel to an above-ground storage facility at the repository within the Nevada Test Site as soon as NRC issues a license for the storage facility. The bill requires DOE to submit a license application for the storage facility at the same time it submits the license application for Yucca. DOE has said it expects to submit the Yucca license application in June, 2008. The NRC could grant the license for the above-ground storage facility 18 months later. Under the Domenici bill, defense fuel could be consolidated at the above-ground site at the repository as early as 2010.
 
NU-WAY also authorizes DOE to begin moving civilian spent fuel to the above-ground storage site as soon as the NRC issues the construction authorization for Yucca and after the DOE Secretary determines that there will not be recycling option available for that fuel within a reasonable period of time. According to the DOE schedule, the construction authorization will be issued in September, 2011.
 
Senator Domenici’s statement:
 
“Congress in 2002 approved Yucca Mountain as the national repository for spent nuclear fuel. That decision has been made. But the project has encountered one delay after another. I consider Yucca Mountain the cornerstone of our nation’s spent nuclear fuel strategy and I hope my bill gets this critical project back on track.
 
“I have written a pragmatic bill that I think has a strong chance of passing the Senate in the next Congress. Unlike other proposals, my bill does not shorten the environmental process or the licensing process. I have also written a bill that integrates Yucca’s vital role with the immediate need for interim storage and the longer-range GNEP program created to recycle spent nuclear fuel. I firmly believe Yucca, interim storage and GNEP are the three-prong solution to our spent fuel challenges. I look forward to the input of my colleagues, the nuclear community and the public between now and the 110th Congress.”
 
Senator Craig’s statement:
 
“NU-WAY is the right way to clear the last hurdle before we embark on a vigorous resurgence of new nuclear power in this country.  Senator Domenici’s landmark approach balances the need for consolidation and preparation (CAP) of recyclable used commercial reactor fuel for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) with the safe interim storage of non-recyclable defense waste at Yucca Mountain, which provides the certainty that we need to proceed with the development of a fleet of new emission-free power reactors. 
 
“For the first time this country will have a comprehensive nuclear energy strategy.  Nobody with serious intentions on reducing greenhouses gasses will be able to oppose this bill with a straight face.  I intend to do all that I can make sure this bill is signed by the President at the earliest possible date.”
 
The text of Domenici’s floor speech introducing NU-WAY can be found on the website at:
https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=235119&Month=9&Year=2006
 
The text of the bill can be found on the committee website at:  https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/_files/NuclearWasteAccelerationtoYuccaLegislation.pdf
 
A SUMMARY OF NU-WAY LEGISLATION:
 
Land Withdrawal
 
Authorizes the Department of Energy (DOE) to permanently withdraw 147,000 acres currently controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, the Air Force, and the Nevada Test Site.
 
Repeal of Arbitrary Repository Capacity Limitation
         
Repeals the 70,000 metric ton statutory limit on emplacement of radioactive material at Yucca Mountain. The capacity of the mountain will be determined by scientific and technical analysis.
 
Authority to Begin Construction of Infrastructure
 
Gives DOE authority to begin construction of infrastructure for the repository and surface storage facilities as soon as DOE completes an EIS that evaluates these activities.
 
DOE’s Authority to Accept and Store Spent Nuclear Fuel
          
Requires DOE to file for a permit to build a surface storage facility at the Nevada Test Site at the same time it files its license application for a repository at Yucca Mountain. As soon as DOE receives the permit for the surface storage facilities from the NRC, DOE may begin moving defense fuel and waste to the Nevada Test Site.  Only after the NRC issues a construction permit for Yucca Mountain, may the DOE begin moving “legacy spent nuclear fuel” or civilian spent fuel to the Nevada Test Site. 
 
Land Withdrawal for Rail Line
 
Withdraws the land for the rail route for Yucca. 
 
Standard Contract
         
Modifies the waste acceptance contract that a utility must sign with the DOE which currently says DOE will begin to accept spent fuel in 1998.  The bill changes the deadline for waste acceptance by DOE from a specified date to 25 years after the nuclear plant begins commercial operation.
 
Nuclear Waste Fund
 
Provides that appropriations from the Nuclear Waste Fund will not count against the allocations for discretionary spending.  In short, takes the Nuclear Waste Fund off budget.
 
Waste Confidence
 
Requires the NRC, in considering whether to permit the construction or operation of additional nuclear reactors, to take the provisions of this legislation and the obligation of the DOE to develop a repository as grounds that sufficient capacity will be available in a timely manner to dispose of the spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.
 
###