The [NRC] will have three years to review the application, although it could extend that an additional year if needed. The agency's primary responsibility is to determine if the design as proposed will protect public health, safety and the environment.However, as long as Senators from Nevada get to place holds on any bill or nomination, Yucca Mtn. won't store nuclear waste. This is especially true if Harry Reid holds onto his position as Democratic Leader (he is up for reelection in 2010 I believe). These senators can make life difficult for the next president, Energy Secretary, and NRC head by holding hostage appointments, funding etc.
The Energy Department informed key members of Congress and the NRC of its plans on Monday. A truck is to deliver tens of thousands of pages of documents to the NRC offices in Rockville, Md., this morning to back up the application, which itself covers 17 volumes.
President Bush gave the go-ahead for the Yucca waste repository, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, six years ago. It is being designed to hold 77,000 tons of waste, mostly used reactor fuel from nuclear power plants.
About $6 billion has been spent in research and engineering at the Nevada site to determine whether it can safely hold the highly radioactive waste for as long as a million years.
Moreover, as long as Utah's own Jim Matheson is on the House Energy and Commerce Committee (which writes those departments paychecks), the NRC/DOE will be very reluctant to approve the plan. Gov. Scott Matheson, Jim's dad, died of cancer, cancer that was caused by exposure to radiation from nuclear testing in Nevada. The federal government lied to the people of rural Nevada and Utah, claiming that no harm would come to them. Jim's mission in Congress has been to prevent all nuclear storage out West (whether by the feds or by Energy Solutions) and to prevent all nuclear testing, especially the new "tactical" nuclear weapons that the Bush Administration would just love to try out against the Iranians.
As Nevada and Utah grow in population, they will also get more seats in the U.S. House. Right now, both have three, but in 4 years, they will each have 1-2 more seats...right about the time the NRC will approve or deny the plan. Moreover, Nevada's population growth has meant that the state is purpling, and will be a swingable state for Obama in 2008 and will be contested in the next presidential elections as well. McCain has previously favored Yucca. Look for Obama to run ads in Nevada harping on that issue this fall. And if Obama's electoral college victory comes thanks to Nevada, he will owe it to the Silver State to deep six Yucca Mountain.