April 30, 2008
Washington, DC – Nevada's Congressional Delegation sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking it to extend the deadline for submitting challenges to the Department of Energy's license application to construct the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.
The text of the letter is below:
April 30, 2008
Annette L. Vietti-Cook
Dear Ms. Vietti-Cook:
As you know, the Department of Energy plans to submit a license application (LA) for construction of a nuclear waste repository to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) this June. We write today to request that the Commission extend the deadline for submitting petitions and contentions to the NRC related to licensing construction at Yucca Mountain. We also request that you file and serve this letter in the appropriate NRC Yucca Mountain public adjudicatory docket for consideration.
On behalf of Nevadans who would like to participate as full parties in NRC's consideration of a LA for Yucca Mountain, we request that the Commission provide potential parties to the licensing proceedings with 180 days from the date NRC staff "dockets" the LA and publishes the notice of hearing to submit their petitions and contentions. Currently, NRC regulations (10 CFR 2.309), provide parties with only 30 days to submit a petition or contentions.
In the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, Congress asserted that "State and public participation in the planning and development of repositories is essential in order to promote public confidence in the safety of disposal of such waste and spent fuel." Considering the expected size and technical complexity of the LA, the DOE's decision to delay publication of key technical documents until on or after the date it submits the LA, and the Commission's high standard for admitting contentions, it is unreasonable to expect parties and potential parties to submit well-crafted contentions 30 days after the license application is accepted for review.
The Department of Energy has spent several decades preparing its case to build a repository at Yucca Mountain. The Department has generated over 3.5 million documents, exceeding 30 million pages of data, studies and analyses that are relevant, in DOE's view, to licensing Yucca Mountain. The LA and its primary supporting references will be over 100,000 pages long. Even if these documents were 'quick reads,' like novels, a person would need over 400 days, at eight hours per day, just to read them once-through. We are asking for less than half of that.
Moreover, several documents that will play an important role in licensing proceedings have not yet been finalized or made public, including two final Environmental Impact Statements and the NRC's and the Environmental Protection Agency's radiation protection standards. In the interest of fairness and good public policy, the NRC should extend the time parties and potential parties have to review this material and submit thoughtful contentions to the Commission.
Thank you for considering our request and promptly addressing this issue. Should you have any questions, please contact Dayle Cristinzio/Alex McDonough (Senator Reid, 202-224-3542), Pam Thiessen/Andrew Shaw (Senator Ensign, 202-224-6244), David Cherry (Congresswoman Berkley, 202-225-5965), Shannon Meade (Congressman Porter, 202-225-3252), or Greg Facchiano (Congressman Heller, 202-225-6155).
_____________________ ____________________ ___________________
Shelley Berkley Jon Porter Dean Heller
U.S. Representative U.S. Representative U.S. Representative
cc: Chairman Dale E. Klein
Commissioner Gregory B. Jaczko
Commissioner Peter B. Lyons
Commissioner Kristine L. Svinicki
Governor Jim Gibbons
Affected Units of Local Government
RenoBruce R. Thompson
Courthouse & Federal Bldg
400 S. Virginia St, Suite 902
Reno, NV 89501
Washington DC522 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
Toll Free for Nevadans:
Carson City600 East William St, #304
Carson City, NV 89701
Phone: 775-882-REID (7343)
Las VegasLloyd D. George Building
333 Las Vegas Boulevard
South, Suite 8016
Las Vegas, NV 89101