ANS welcomes Abraham's endorsement of Yucca Mountain
La Grange Park, IL (January 10, 2002)
- Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's endorsement of Yucca Mountain as a suitable repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level nuclear waste is a giant step toward solving one of the most controversial issues involving nuclear energy, says the American Nuclear Society.
"We have high confidence that Yucca Mountain is a suitable site, and we applaud the Department of Energy's recommendation to proceed with the next stage of repository development – the application of a license for repository construction," said ANS Vice President/President-Elect Harold B. Ray. "The pre-closure and post-closure assessments of Yucca Mountain convince us that the combination of site and design features provide public health protection with a considerable margin of safety."
Following the adoption of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, DOE was directed to find a site for disposing highly radioactive materials. Many scientists have concluded that storing such material deep underground is the safest method.
The Yucca Mountain site, located about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nev., is situated in a mountain range with a unique combination of rock characteristics and an extremely deep water table (800 to 1,000 feet below the level of the repository). It has undergone years of study by scientists, engineers and other nuclear experts. One such study was the Yucca Mountain Preliminary Site Suitability Evaluation (PSSE), which incorporated the most recent data from field and laboratory experiments, and examined many alternative models that have never before been explored.
Work performed by the DOE, national laboratories and other government agencies such as the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency provided an impressive comprehensive collection of interdisciplinary studies and reports. These studies concluded that the Yucca Mountain site is well suited to become the nation's first geological repository.
"We're confident that the DOE has selected and characterized a site that, with appropriate engineering design and operation, can meet with high confidence the regulatory standard for public health and safety," said Ray. "The PSSE shows that the site can meet the post-closure standard, and the analyses indicate that pre-closure health and safety protection are more than adequate."
ANS' confidence on the Yucca Mountain site is based on several factors, including:
- The project has demonstrated that the natural features of Yucca Mountain contribute very significantly to public health protection;
- The project has adopted a highly robust engineered barrier system employing multiple, independent barriers to provide long-term confinement of radionuclides; and
- DOE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will continue to conduct additional research and monitoring activities over the next several decades to further bolster confidence in the safety of the repository.
"We applaud the DOE for conducting such a credible interdisciplinary analysis demonstrating suitability of the Yucca Mountain site for this nation's high-level geological repository, and we are prepared to contribute to the next step of Yucca Mountain," said Ray. "It's clear the time has come for the administration to prepare a license application to the NRC for permission to construct and operate Yucca Mountain. This is an important step for the future of nuclear energy."
More information regarding ANS' position on Yucca Mountain can be found at: http://www.ans.org/pi/news/d-1002899330