Licensing Process for the Yucca Mountain Geologic Repository
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA), as amended, specifies a three-phased approach to licensing a Geologic Repository. See DOE Projected Schedule for Licensing a Geologic Repository. To begin the first phase, on June 3, 2008, DOE submitted a license application to the NRC, requesting authorization to construct the Yucca Mountain repository. By law, the NRC will have 4 years to perform its review which will include, conducting a public hearing, and issuing a construction authorization decision. It's 3-4 years to reach a decision on construction authorization, which goes beyond the ASLB decision. If the NRC grants a construction authorization, the process would enter the second phase.
In the second phase, as construction of the repository nears completion, DOE will update its license application to request a license to receive and possess high-level radioactive waste. If the NRC grants that license, DOE will begin placing high-level radioactive waste into the repository. In the third phase, when the disposal facility is full, DOE will apply for a license amendment to permanently close the repository.
For each phase of the licensing process, the NRC will follow its licensing procedures. For instance, for the construction authorization phase, the NRC's process for licensing a high-level waste repository includes an initial review of the application to determine whether it is complete enough to begin a detailed technical review. If the application is incomplete, it will be returned to DOE. If the application is complete, it will be docketed, and a notice will be published in the Federal Register. A notice of hearing will offer the opportunity to petition for leave to intervene in a formal adjudicatory proceeding on the application. After the NRC reviews the application and completes a hearing, it will decide whether to authorize DOE to construct a high-level waste repository at Yucca Mountain.