NRC urged to ‘clarify’ Yucca ruling

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is being urged to clarify its ruling last Friday to bring license hearings to an end on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project.

"The order is contradictory,"  charged Andrew Fitz, a senior counsel for Washington state, one of the parties that has challenged the Obama administration’s moves to terminate the Nevada program.

"We request that you clarify the scope of the order’s directive," Fitz wrote in a letter sent late Monday to the board of the nuclear agency.

In a long-awaited decision announced Friday, the commission said it deadlocked 2-2 on whether the administration could legally withdraw its application to build a nuclear waste burial site at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

At the same time the commission directed its Atomic Safety and Licensing Board to wrap up proceedings on Yucca Mountain by Sept. 30.   The order cited "budgetary limitations," a reference to the administration requesting no money for the project in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Fitz asked the NRC to explain further what if any actions the licensing board is being told to carry out.

"In addition, the order is silent as to the NRC’s future acts," Fitz wrote.  He said according to NRC internal procedures the split vote effectively leaves the Yucca application intact and "therefore the licensing proceedings should continue."

Fitz said the letter sent on behalf of Washington state, South Carolina, Aiken County, S.C., Nye County in Nevada and three businessmen from Washington state.   All are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the NRC pending in federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.

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