The Latest: Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site looks more distant than ever

  • Yucca Mountain.

    CC via Wikimedia Commons

After decades of indecision about where to store nuclear waste, in 2002 President George W. Bush approved building a permanent repository at Nevada's Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. In 2009, under political pressure, President Obama halted construction plans. Still, the U.S. Department of Energy continued collecting fees from nuclear power plants for future construction ("Mountain of doubt," HCN, 1/19/09).

In mid-November, a D.C. federal court of appeals ordered the government to stop collecting those fees, now totaling more than $30 billion. "Until the department comes to some conclusion as to how nuclear wastes are to be deposited permanently," the ruling said, "it seems quite unfair to force petitioners to pay fees for a hypothetical option." In an August court decision, however, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission resumed its review of the Yucca site application, and now the Department of Energy says a permanent repository will be open by 2048 (location TBA).

Jerry King
Jerry King Subscriber
Dec 10, 2013 05:21 PM
I worked on the Yucca Mountain Project for 17 years. When I joined the Project in 1986, the plan was to have a repository up and running by 1998. That date slipped and slipped and slipped, for many reasons. Now we not only do not have a candidate site, the DOE doesn't have a process for picking a new site, and there is no legal framework in place to guide the development of such a process. There is no basis for the 2048 date. Senator Harry Reid and President Obama simply punted the ball to some yet-to-be-identified future generation.