From: Ken Ritter, Associated Press
Published September 2, 2005 12:00 AM

Nevada Files Suit against NRC over Yucca License Process

LAS VEGAS — Nevada filed suit against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday, accusing the agency of prejudging an upcoming Energy Department application for a license to open a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.


The new lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal challenges the state has filed against the federal plan to bury the nation's most radioactive waste beneath a mountain 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.


"The only way NRC can meet its requirement that a repository will be available by 2025 is to presume it will give Yucca a license," Attorney General Brian Sandoval said in a statement. "For an ostensibly impartial regulator to make that prejudgment is simply unlawful."


The 15-page petition asks the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to overturn a commission decision to reject a March 1 challenge the state filed against the "Waste Confidence Rule."


The rule, adopted in 1990, lets the NRC continue licensing new nuclear plants and power plant waste storage facilities around the country with the expectation that, if the Yucca repository never opens, the government will find and open another site by 2025.


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NRC spokesman David McIntyre denied Sandoval's claim and said the commission had yet to decide whether it would award the Energy Department a license to operate Yucca Mountain.


The commission has said that it is committed to a fair and comprehensive review of the Energy Department's application, which is expected to be filed next year. Recent setbacks have pushed back the target date for receiving waste from 2010 to 2012 or later.


The state also has a suit pending in the same federal court challenging an Energy Department plan to build a dedicated 319-mile railroad line across Nevada to ship nuclear waste to the Yucca Mountain site.


Source: Associated Press


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