'Bait and switch' intentions denied for Yucca site

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Energy moved quickly Thursday to deny the suggestion that it is looking to "bait and switch" on getting a Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository licensed.

Russ Dyer, chief scientist on the nuclear waste project, issued a rebuttal to a suggestion made earlier this week by Nevada officials. Dyer said they were "simply wrong."

Based on reviews of DOE documents, state technical experts said they suspected that the DOE was working on a "next generation" repository plan using "state of the art algorithms and computational software."

Bob Loux, director of the state Agency for Nuclear Projects, alerted the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to the situation on Monday, and the state made its letter public on Wednesday.

Loux said the state suspects a Yucca license application that the DOE plans to send the NRC in summer 2008 will be flawed, but then switched out improperly when an advanced version is ready. He called it a "bait and switch."

Dyer, in a letter to Loux on Thursday, said, "Your assertion that DOE will switch midstream to its 'real assessment' is simply wrong."

"The license application that DOE will submit and defend will be based on the (total system analysis) performed for the license application," Dyer said.

"And DOE believes that will be sufficient to support the grant of an authorization for construction," he said.

Dyer also scolded the state official, urging him to "refrain from speculation based on incomplete information."

Loux could not be reached for comment Thursday night.


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