16 October 2014 – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has published Volume 3 of its safety evaluation
report on the proposed underground geologic nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev.
Volume 3 covers the period after a repository at Yucca Mountain would be permanently closed
should NRC authorize construction following completion of the remaining steps in the licensing
process. Volume 3 contains the staffs finding that the Department of Energys repository design meets
the requirements that apply after the repository is permanently closed, including but not limited to the
post-closure performance objectives in NRCs regulations (in 10 CFR Part 63, Subpart E). These
performance objectives include the requirement that the repository be composed of multiple barriers to
isolate radioactivity from the environment. The staff also found the proposed repository design meets
the NRCs limits or standards (in 10 CFR Part 63, Subpart L) for individual protection, human intrusion
and groundwater protection.
The Department of Energy submitted its Yucca Mountain application in June 2008. The NRC
staff published Volume 1 (General Information) of the safety evaluation report in August 2010. After
DOE moved to withdraw the application and Congress stopped appropriating funds for the NRCs
review, the agency closed out its application review and published three technical evaluation reports
containing the staffs technical analyses to that point but no regulatory conclusions. The adjudication of
nearly 300 contentions filed by various parties contesting the application was also suspended in
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the NRC in August
2013 to resume the licensing process using currently available funding appropriated from the Nuclear
Waste Fund. That court order led to todays publication of Volume 3. The staff expects to publish
volumes 2 (Repository Safety Before Permanent Closure), 4 (Administrative and Programmatic
Requirements) and 5 (License Specifications) by January 2015, as they are completed.
Publication of Volume 3 does not signal whether the NRC might authorize construction of the
repository. A final licensing decision, should funds beyond those currently available be appropriated,
could come only after completion of the safety evaluation report, a supplement to the Department of
Energys environmental impact statement, hearings on contentions in the adjudication, and
NUREG 1949, Safety Evaluation Report Related to Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Wastes
in a Geologic Repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, Volume 3, is now publicly available in the NRCs ADAMS online database as ML14288A121. More information on the Yucca Mountain
licensing process is available on the NRC website.
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