For nearly three decades, since the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act designated deep geologic disposal as the preferred form of nuclear waste disposal, the Yucca Mountain project has cost the United States nearly $10 billion. In 1987, Congress passed an amendment directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to concentrate on Yucca Mountain, thus pushing away any alternatives. This section concentrates on the selection of Yucca Mountain, its support and opposition, and its withdrawal by the DOE in 2010.
Opponents of Yucca Mountain have stated that it was chosen for political, not scientific, reasons. Many have stressed that there are better alternatives that have not been properly analyzed because of the 1987 vote by Congress. In 2003, the state of Nevada, in its constant fight against the project, explained that Yucca was the only repository under construction in the world that was located above the water table, rather than below it, and the only one in an area of high seismic and volcanic activity (all of which pose huge risks to the long-term safety of the storage of radioactive material). At a DOE public hearing in 2001, one opponent claimed, “no one has bothered looking anywhere else.”
The DOE has come to realize the validity of these claims and, in March of 2010, it withdrew its application for Yucca Mountain and attorneys claimed that if the application is dismissed, the DOE “does not intend to ever refile it.” The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, however, is determined that the DOE does not have the authority to withdraw its application. In early 2011, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hold hearings to address this issue. Even if Yucca Mountain is officially dismissed as a repository site, the government will need to invest even more time and money addressing the nuclear waste problem.
- National, State and Local Groups Opposed to Yucca Mountain, May 21, 2008
- Testimony to Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Testimony of Gene E. Runkle, Senior Safety Advisor, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, U.S. Department of Energy, March 15, 2004.
- Overview: Yucca Mountain Project, Fact Sheet, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, U.S. Department of Energy, November 2003.
- Nuclear Waste: Preliminary Observations on the Quality Assurance Program at the Yucca Mountain Repository, Testimony before the Subcommittee on Energy andWater Development, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate, Statement of Robin M. Nazzaro, Director Natural Resources and Environment, May 28, 2003.
- Yucca Mountain Science and Engineering Report Technical Information Supporting Site Recommendation Consideration , Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, U.S. Department of Energy, February 2002.
- Yucca Mountain Site Suitability Evaluation , Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, U.S. Department of Energy, February 2002.
- Letter to Congress Recommending Approval of Yucca Mountain, President Bush, The White House, February 15, 2002.
- Statement on Yucca Mountain, Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, February 15, 2002.
- Letter to the President Recommending Yucca Mountain As a Nuclear Waste Repository, Secretary of Energy Abraham, U.S. Department of Energy, February 14, 2002.
- Recommendation by the Secretary of Energy Regarding the Suitability of the Yucca Mountain Site for a Repository Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, February 2002.
- Public Health and Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for YuccaMountain, NV; Final Rule, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), June 13, 2001.
- Yucca Mountain Reclamation Programs, Fact Sheet, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, U.S. Department of Energy, June 2000.
- Nuclear Waste Policy Act, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management , U.S. Department of Energy, 1982
- Yucca Mountain: Time to Think the Unthinkable - Testimony presented at US Department of Energy Public Hearing 12-8-2001 by David Comarow