United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
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Review of DOE's High-Level Waste Repository Site Recommendation

The NRC is required to provide its preliminary comments prior to any Department of Energy site recommendation of a high-level radioactive waste repository site. The scope of the NRC's responsibilities and the process by which the NRC is generating comments for a potential site recommendation of the proposed Yucca Mountain repository are described below.


The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 requires NRC to provide preliminary comments on certain information in any Department of Energy (DOE) site recommendation. The NRC's comments will be "preliminary" and will address the extent to which the DOE information seems to be sufficient for inclusion in any potential license application. Additional information is available on the site recommendation process.

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Process Description

The NRC will comment on the sufficiency of the DOE's at-depth site characterization analysis, the waste form and packaging proposal, and what, if any, additional DOE data or analyses are needed. The DOE must make NRC's preliminary comments part of DOE's site recommendation process. The NRC's preliminary comments will provide an independent indication to the President and the Congress on whether the DOE has acquired, developed, and assembled sufficient information for a license application. If the DOE recommends the Yucca Mountain site and the President accepts the site recommendation, the report is forwarded to the Congress. The State of Nevada has 60 days after the date that the President recommends the site to Congress to submit a notice of disapproval to Congress. If the State of Nevada does not submit a notice of disapproval, the site recommendation becomes effective 60 days after the President recommends the site to Congress. If the State of Nevada submits a notice of disapproval of the site, then Congress must review the petition. The Congressional review process is complex and is defined in Section 115 of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. Only if a joint resolution of Congress is passed or if no notice of disapproval is submitted can the DOE prepare a license application seeking NRC authorization to construct a repository at Yucca Mountain. The NRC will perform a detailed licensing review, if DOE submits a license application.

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Status as of January, 2002

On July 3, 2001, the DOE asked that NRC provide its preliminary sufficiency comments by November 1, 2001. The NRC staff conducted numerous meetings with DOE focused on the resolution of key technical issues. DOE's request and NRC's preliminary sufficiency comments, dated November 14, 2001, are now available.

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Public Involvement

There will be no further meetings on NRC's sufficiency comments. However, as part of the ongoing dialog between the public and NRC, the public can participate as observers in key technical issue resolution meetings.

See the NRC Public Meeting Schedule for meetings pertaining to the NRC high-level waste program. This schedule is regularly updated when new meetings are scheduled.

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Related Regulations and Guidance

An agreement between DOE and NRC governs interactions between the two agencies during the pre-licensing phase and discusses the extent of public involvement permitted in the issue resolution meetings.

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Related Documents and Other Resources

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, November 18, 2013