DOE unleashes bureaucrats on post-Yucca report

The Department of Energy may have difficulty meeting a six-month deadline to tell Congress how it plans to carry out recommendations for a new strategy on nuclear waste, a trade newsletter is reporting.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced last month he had formed a committee within DOE to digest the findings of the blue ribbon commission that capped a 22-month study of U.S. nuclear waste management with its report on Jan. 26.

But "the actual review and approval structure for the group is a complex, three-tiered bureaucratic web involving no fewer than seven offices within DOE that some worry will make it impossible for DOE to submit a substantive report by July 26," RadWaste Monitor reports, based on DOE memos it obtained.

The task force is headed by former National Nuclear Security Administration official Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner, the newsletter said. It includes representatives from the offices of Nuclear Energy, Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, Chief Financial Officer, Environmental Management, and General Counsel. It will report to Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Pete Lyons.

"There is also a steering committee … consisting of the deputies from participating offices, that will review the working group’s findings. Finally, above the steering committee, is a ‘decision-level Policy Council,’ coordinated by Lyons and consisting of the principals from participating offices," the publication said.

At a March 7 hearing before the House energy and water subcommittee, Lyons was asked the odds that the report would be ready by Aug. 1.

"It’s our target, that’s all I can say," Lyons said.

The blue ribbon commission recommended the government take a friendlier approach to recruit states to host nuclear waste sites, following 25 years of battle with Nevada over Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

At the urging of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., President Barack Obama canceled the Yucca Mountain project after taking office and established the study commission to develop new plans.

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