High-Level Waste Disposal
NRC's Yucca Mountain Licensing Activities
The NRC resumed work on its technical and environmental reviews of the Yucca Mountain application using available funds in response to an August 2013 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The staff completed and published the final volumes of the safety evaluation report in January 2015. In February 2015, the Commission directed staff to develop and issue an Environmental Impact Statement supplement. The adjudicatory hearing, which must be completed before a licensing decision can be made, remains suspended.
As Congress outlined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA), as amended, the role of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is to serve as the independent regulator for the design, construction, operation, and eventual decommissioning of a geologic repository for permanent disposal of high-level waste (HLW) at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Toward that end, the NRC has issued a variety of environmental and radiation safety regulations pertaining to the proposed geologic repository. Specifically, these regulations establish the requirements that the NRC staff will use to evaluate the proposed design of the repository, determine whether to adopt the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and render decisions to deny or grant the necessary construction authorization and, potentially at some later time, a license to receive and possess waste at Yucca Mountain. If DOE is granted the construction authorization and, subsequently, a receipt license, the NRC will also oversee and inspect any construction, waste emplacement, and/or repository closure activities. In addition, the NRC is responsible for licensing the design, construction, use, and maintenance of any shipping casks that may be used to move commercial HLW by truck or rail to Yucca Mountain. For additional information, see the following related pages: