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Wash. AG's Yucca Mt. challenge ruled premature

By John O'Brien | Jul 1, 2011


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Though a federal appeals court ruled against him in a dispute over a nuclear waste repository, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna says the case is far from over.

Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that it is too soon to challenge the federal Department of Energy's decision to withdraw the license application for the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste repository.

"The Court of Appeals today ruled only that our suit is premature because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not issued a decision on the merits of the application to build the Yucca Mountain repository or on the Department of Energy's motion to withdraw that application," McKenna said.

Fifty-three million gallons of nuclear waste are stored in Hanford. McKenna has said $10 billion has been spent pursuing development of the waste repository.

"We are encouraged that the Court recognized the federal government's legal responsibility to provide for disposal of the nation's high level waste and that Washington's concerns regarding the federal government's commitment to that responsibility are reasonable," McKenna said.

Congress designated the Yucca Mountain as the nation's only current repository site for deep geologic disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel eight years ago.

Congress then directed the DOE to file a license application for the Yucca Mountain site with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and began a formal evaluation and licensing process overseen by the NRC. When Barack Obama was elected president, the DOE changed its mind.

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