WASHINGTON (CN) – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requesting public comments on a petition calling for it to cease licensing new nuclear power plants. The petitioner has concluded that the Obama administration’s decision to defund the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain makes it unlikely that a permanent repository will be created to store spent nuclear fuel.
The petition was submitted by Dan Kane, a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada who says, in his submission to the agency, he worked as an engineer on the licensing application for the Yucca Mountain facility and spent part of his career designing safety systems for commercial nuclear facilities.
The petition argues that the decision to defund the site was made in violation Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 and the Yucca Mountain Development Act of 2002, which began and reaffirmed the designation of Yucca Mountain as the federal repository for spent nuclear fuel. It also argues that all licensing of new facilities is based on the agency’s assumption that the facility will be able to receive spent fuel.
In addition, the petition points out that “The Commission has given no indication, either at the time of its acceptance review or during its technical review [of the Department of Energy’s license for Yucca Mountain] that the proposed site or the application was in any way deficient.”
In October of 2008 the NRC ruled that it could continue to renew and grant new nuclear plant licenses regardless of delays in completion of the Yucca Mountain site because the temporary on-site storage depots at existing facilities could be stored safely for at least 30 years past the expiration of any current operating license.
The following year, the Obama administration eliminated funding for the Yucca Mountain facility and created a Nuclear Waste Commission to spearhead the development of disposal methods that do not include indefinite storage under ground. Calling the administration’s actions politically motivated the petition goes on to say that “it would be irresponsible to continue with the operation and refueling of existing plants and licensing of new ones without having confidence not only, in the technical- and financial aspects of final waste disposition, but also the political.”
The public has until June 15 to submit comments on the petition.