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NRC finds Yucca Mountain project will have 'small' groundwater impact

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NRC finds Yucca Mountain project will have 'small' groundwater impact

TheU.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has found that the potential impact of storing spend nuclearfuel as the Yucca Mountain geologic repository on groundwater and the dischargeof any contaminated groundwater to the ground surface would be "small."

Thesupplement environmental impact statementis the final piece in a tome of reports released over more than a decade,starting in 2002 when the Department of Energy issued an initial EIS. Theproposed project in Nevada has been a political , fraught with delays andprotests.

TheDOE in the past year has all but abandoned hope of the project ever receivingshipments of spent nuclear fuel from the nation's nuclear power plant fleet,with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz announcingplans for one or more interim sites to be used until a more permanent solutionis developed. Private companies, meanwhile, have stepped up to interim storagefacilities.

Adraft version of the NRC's EIS was published in August 2015, after which NRCstaff hosted several public meetings at its headquarters in Maryland and inNevada. Few changes were made between the proposal and final version.Commenters mainly raised concerns about the level of public awareness of theYucca Mountain project and the scope of the NRC's review.

Onecommenter expressed concern about the costs of the project and the NRC'sfailure to look at the issue or update costs based on current expectations.Many commenters had the same concerns about the science behind the project. Inboth cases the NRC said the EIS was not the place for such analysis and issimply one of several steps in the process of licensing the project.

Anothercommenter asked why the NRC did not review the impact that transportation ofthe waste will have across the country, but again, the NRC said the EIS wasstrictly focused on the groundwater impacts at the actual Yucca site.