Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Yucca Mountain Volume III Safety Evaluation Report

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on February 18, 2011

“As a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, The Heritage Foundation today obtained the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Yucca Mountain Volume III Safety Evaluation Report (SER). This document is critical because it contains the NRC’s conclusions regarding the scientific and technological merits of the Department of Energy’s application to construct and operate the high level nuclear waste repository. The NRC’s assessment should be the final word on the whether or not the Yucca facility could be safely built and operated; hence its conclusions have been much anticipated. Therefore, we were terribly disappointed that both the executive summary and the report’s conclusions have been redacted. The NRC defends its decision to redact this information on the basis that the document is predecisional and not commission policy. That is because NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko ordered a stop to all review activities last year, so the NRC staff’s work and conclusions never had the opportunity to be vetted. This ensured that the work that the commission staff had undertaken over the previous two years—which culminated in the SER that was obtained today—would be stopped before the commission could affirmatively approve its conclusions. This allows the NRC to now say that the conclusions should not be made public because they were not completely vetted. The NRC’s official justification is at the end of this post.”

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