Following Court Ruling, Committee Leaders Invite NRC Chairman Macfarlane to Testify, Seek Progress Reports on Yucca License Review

August 23, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) today wrote to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane following last week’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that the NRC must resume its review of the Department of Energy’s license application for Yucca Mountain. In light of the court’s decision, the committee leaders have requested Chairman Macfarlane testify in front of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy on September 10, 2013, and are seeking progress reports related to the NRC’s license review.

In the letter to Macfarlane, Upton and Shimkus wrote, “In a February 28, 2013 hearing before the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, you and your fellow commissioners committed to honor the Court’s decision concerning resumption of the license review and to provide monthly reports on the staff’s progress and expenditure of resources. The Committee will look forward to the monthly reports, beginning in September.”

The committee leaders are particularly interested in the commission’s plans to publicly release the Safety Evaluation Report (SER) on the proposed Yucca Mountain design, which will determine whether the repository is safe. The NRC has indicated all volumes of the SER could be completed within a matter of months at a cost of $6.5 million. NRC staff previously testified that the commission currently has $11.1 million in unobligated funds available for review of the license application.

The committee leaders continued, “Given these available resources and the progress already made to complete the SER, it is our expectation that the NRC’s first action to implement the Court’s decision will be to diligently resume its review of the license application, complete the SER, and issue it publicly. Our country has invested 30 years and $15 billion in determining whether Yucca Mountain would be a safe repository. The NRC is this nation’s nuclear safety regulator and its reputation for independence and objectivity rests on its transparency in this matter. As such, NRC’s objective, scientific findings regarding the safety of Yucca Mountain would provide the public an independent, authoritative assessment of this important project.”

In addition to the monthly progress reports, the committee is seeking additional information to assist with oversight efforts, including a description of actions already taken by NRC to comply with the court order and NRC’s schedule for releasing and finalizing each volume of the Safety Evaluation Report.

For a fully copy of the letter, click HERE.

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