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Courtney joins effort to proceed with Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility

Published September 27. 2013 5:00PM   Updated September 27. 2013 5:47PM

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, announced today that he has joined a bipartisan coalition of 80 members of the House in sending a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission urging that it pursue completion of safety evaluation reports for the proposed nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

“When the license review process was shutdown in a misguided decision by your predecessor, NRC staff worked to complete one volume of the (Safety Evaluation Reports) and completed technical evaluation reports without recommendations for three of the other four volumes,” Courtney and other representatives wrote in a letter to NRC Chairwoman Alison Macfarlane. “It is our firm belief that completion of the (report) will settle the debate and provide scientific data confirming what we have known for many years – that Yucca Mountain is a safe location for a permanent repository.”

In a recent decision, the Washington Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the NRC to restart its work on the licensing process for a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. Currently, the agency has about $11.1 million remaining to conduct licensing activities. Rather than trying to restart every part of the licensing process, the bipartisan letter urges the NRC to focus on completing the Safety Evaluation Report, a key part of the review process.

In a news release, Courtney said he strongly supports restarting the review process for a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel. In 2010, he joined bipartisan opposition to the Energy Department’s plan to shut down the Yucca review process.

Courtney helped pass bipartisan amendments in 2011 and in 2012 to provide additional funding to support resumed work on the licensing review of Yucca Mountain as a permanent disposal site. Earlier this year, he supported a bipartisan coalition to defeat a proposal to eliminate funding for continued review of the project from the 2014 energy appropriations bill.

Courtney’s district includes the Millstone Power Station in Waterford, which is expanding its on-site storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. It also includes the decommissioned Connecticut Yankee plant in Haddam Neck.

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