05/28/99 07:01 FAX
Department of Energy
Washington, DC 20585
MAY 25 1999
Mr, Robert R. Loux
Dear Mr. Loux
This letter is in response to your letter dated February 8, 1999, requesting that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) change the public comment period for the Yucca Mountain Geologic Repository Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Repository DEIS) from 90 to 180 days. The Department has reviewed your request but has decided to maintain a 90-day review period for the DEIS.
As you noted, during the EIS scoping process in 1995, DOE originally planned for a 180-day public comment review period. However, EIS activities were. suspended for about a year due to budget cuts in fiscal year 1996. As a result, it became necessary to compress the EIS schedule, which was achieved in part by reducing the comment period to 90 days, a period that is consistent with other recent EIS's prepared by the Department.
In the last several years, DOE has made significant improvements in its ability to make information related to the program available to interested parties. Many of the documents that serve as the technical basis for the Repository DEIS, e.g., the Viability Assessment (VA.) and the technical documents that support the VA, either are or soon will be available on the INTERNET. In order to facilitate effective public review, DOE will make reference documents that support the DEIS available in four primary public reading room locations (three of which are located in Nevada) as soon as the DEIS is released. These references will also be posted on the INTERNET as soon as possible.
DOE has also provided briefings on technical and policy issues related to the Repository DEIS in various public forums, such as meetings with the Affected Units of Government and the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, DOE held three public information meetings in February 1999 on the status of the Yucca Mountain Project and the DEIS. In addition, DOE plans to hold 13 public hearings during the public comment period on the DEIS, including eight public hearings in Nevada.
DOE is planning to make the Repository DEIS available in local information offices as well as on the Yucca Mountain Home Page on the INTERNET. To enhance your ability to conduct the review within 90 days, DOE will provide copies of the DEIS to your office in hardcopy and CD ROM immediately upon its release. Copies will also be available for public review to anyone by calling 1-800-225-6972.
We would like to express our thanks for your staff's participation in the public information meetings held in February. DOE presented the overall construct of the EIS document, details of chapter contents, and provided information to the public with regard to participation in the DEIS review and public comment period. Your input to the work done on the DEIS will provide us with an important perspective, and we want to works with your office to assist your review. If you would like to discuss this further, please call me at (202) 586-6850.
Lake H. BarrettLake H. Barrett, Acting Director
Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management