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Eighty-one US House members urge NRC to make Yucca report a priority

Eighty-one members of the US House of Representatives urged NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane Friday in a letter to use the agency's $11.1 million in carryover waste funds to complete agency staff's safety evaluation report on the repository proposed for Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

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"It is our firm belief that completion of the SER will settle the debate and provide scientific data confirming what we have known for many years -- that Yucca Mountain is a safe location for a permanent repository," the lawmakers said.

Volume three of the multi-volume SER evaluates the post-closure safety of a repository at Yucca Mountain and is considered central to an NRC determination of whether a nuclear waste disposal facility at the site would meet agency licensing requirements.

The lawmakers wrote the letter after the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an August 13 decision ordering NRC to restart its congressionally mandated review of DOE's Yucca Mountain repository license application. NRC suspended its Yucca licensing activities in 2011 under then-Chairman Gregory Jaczko, who said the agency lacked the funds to complete that work.

The letter, signed by 50 Republicans and 31 Democrats, noted that the lawmakers "understand that the NRC does not have the funding to complete the entire licensing process for Yucca Mountain" but that the agency should "do the most the little it has remaining." The lawmakers added a bipartisan effort is underway in the House "to secure additional funding for the NRC."

But it might be difficult for additional funding for that work to clear the Senate, where Yucca Mountain opponent Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, is the majority leader.

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