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Nevada asks US appeals court to rehear Yucca Mountain licensing case


The state of Nevada has asked a federal appeals court to take another look at whether the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission should be ordered to restart its review of a license application for a high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

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The petition for a rehearing, filed Thursday with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asks that all active judges of the court, plus members of the three-judge panel that first heard the case, take up the case.

A 2-1 decision the court issued August 13 said NRC broke the law when it suspended its congressionally mandated review of the US Department of Energy license application for a repository at Yucca Mountain. The court ordered NRC to restart the licensing proceeding.

In an effort to gear up for a resumption of that work, the NRC has sought input from participants in the earlier Yucca proceeding on how to restart that process. Monday is the deadline for comments.

Nevada's state officials and its congressional delegation have long opposed the federal government's plan to dispose of utility spent fuel in the state, claiming a repository at Yucca Mountain would not be safe.

Marta Adams, a senior deputy attorney general for Nevada, said in an interview Thursday that the state agrees with Chief Judge Merrick Garland's dissenting opinion in the case, that given the limited funds available to NRC, ordering the agency to resume the licensing work would be a "useless thing."

NRC told the court it has about $11.1 million in unobligated carryover Yucca funds, a fraction of what would be needed to complete the work.

--Elaine Hiruo,
--Edited by Valarie Jackson,