The Obama administration has suffered a defeat in its efforts to close the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

DOE-SealThe Obama administration has suffered a defeat in its efforts to close the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Three administrative judges within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled last week that President Barack Obama and Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu don’t have the authority to close the controversial site unilaterally. That can only be accomplished, the judges said, by an act of Congress.

“Unless Congress directs otherwise, DOE may not single-handedly derail the legislated decision-making process by withdrawing the (Yucca repository) application. DOE’s motion must therefore be denied,” the judges wrote, adding that the DOE had weakened its arguments by “conceding that the application is not flawed nor the (Yucca) site unsafe.”

“Given the stated purposes of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and the detailed structure of that legislation, it would be illogical to allow DOE to withdraw the application without any examination of the merits,” the judges found.

The Yucca site has been controversial for a generation. The federal government designated Yucca Mountain in 1987 as the repository of highly toxic waste from nuclear complexes that built atomic bombs during the Cold War and has spent more than $10 billion readying it to receive some of the most dangerous material in the world.

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Source: Kansas City Star
Photo: U.S. Department of Energy