NRC issues final Yucca Mountain technical report, nears closure of license review

Source: US Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued the last of three Technical Evaluation Reports (TERs) on the Department of Energy’s license application for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, and is nearing the successful completion of its orderly closure of the licensing review process.

“Technical Evaluation Report on the Content of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain Repository License Application; Administrative and Programmatic Volume,” contains the NRC staff’s assessment of information DOE provided about a dozen administrative and programmatic areas relating to repository operations. It does not contain any regulatory conclusions about whether DOE’s proposal would have satisfied NRC requirements.

Issuance of this TER follows previous volumes on post-closure safety, issued July 21, and pre-closure safety, issued Sept. 1. Together, the three reports represent the staff’s primary knowledge management records of its technical review of the DOE license application.

In addition to the TERs, the NRC is on schedule to complete the orderly closure of the Yucca Mountain Program by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The close-out efforts include:

• The NRC’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) and its contractor, the Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses, have developed 46 reports intended to capture important technical and regulatory information, insights, and lessons learned from more than 25 years of work during the pre-licensing and licensing phases of the Yucca Mountain Program. The reports cover scientific and engineering topics such as lava flow cooling processes, corrosion of Alloy 22 and titanium drip shield materials, and interactions between magma and waste containers.

• The NRC, through the General Services Administration, has terminated its lease for the Las Vegas Hearing Facility, effective Sept. 30. The facility was designed to house the adjudicatory hearings on the Yucca Mountain application. The hearing room has been dismantled, its computer and video equipment are being transferred to other NRC or federal government locations or donated to local schools, and the facility will be returned to the landlord in a “broom-clean” condition by Sept. 30.

• The NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board terminated operation of the Licensing Support Network, an online database of documents related to the Yucca Mountain hearing, on Aug. 5. As of that date, each of the parties to the hearing are responsible for maintaining their own documents, and they were directed to submit their LSN document collections to the NRC Office of the Secretary on approved optical storage media. The LSN, including a contract with AT&T, will be fully decommissioned by Sept. 30.

• On Sept. 9, the Commission declared itself evenly divided on whether to take the affirmative action of overturning or upholding the ASLB’s June 2010 ruling on DOE’s motion to withdraw its application, and directed the ASLB to “complete all necessary and appropriate case management activities, including disposal of all matters currently pending before it and comprehensively documenting the full history of the adjudicatory proceeding,” by Sept. 30. 

All three TERs are available on the NRC website’s Yucca Mountain page.

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