NRC Chairman Killing Yucca Without Authority

Jack Spencer /

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko has ordered his staff to stop the review of the nuclear materials repository at Yucca Mountain. Aside from the harmful policy implications of this action, the chairman seems to be moving forward without any authority to do so.

President Obama has made it clear that he supports terminating the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository. And despite there being no scientific or technical evidence to support the decision and the fact that he has no plan for how the United States should manage its nuclear waste absent Yucca, he has that right. But neither he, his Administration, nor the NRC has the right to ignore existing statute, the legal process, or the will of Congress.

What Does the Statute Say?
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as amended, clearly states that the federal government is responsible for managing America’s commercial nuclear waste, and the Yucca Mountain Development Act of 2002 explicitly identifies Yucca Mountain as the location of the nation’s nuclear materials repository.

No Congress has passed any bill to reverse these laws. Thus it becomes very questionable how the Administration or NRC can shut down all Yucca activities without either a plan to replace Yucca or congressional authority to terminate the project. (more…)