|STATE OF NEVADA
Carson City, Nevada 89710
Fax: (702) 687-4486
|December 24, 1996|
|The Honorable Hazel O'Leary
The Department of Energy
Intergovernmental Affairs Office
CI-30, Room #7B164
1000 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington D.C. 20585
On Monday, December 16th, the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management
(OCRWM) of the Department of Energy published, for public comment, a proposed
rule revising 10 CFR 960, General Guidelines for the Recommendation of
Sites for Nuclear Waste Repositories. I am writing to express my very strong
objection to this action on the following grounds.
First, the proposed rule does not comply with the clear direction in Section
112(a) of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, as amended, which requires specific
factors that qualify or disqualify any site from development as a repository.
It further sets out a number of technical factors which must be addressed
by these qualifying and disqualifying conditions, including geology, hydrology,
the location of valuable natural resources, nearby atomic energy defense
activities, proximity to water supplies and effect on the rights of water
users, transportation and safety factors involved in moving the waste to
a repository, etc. The proposed rule violates the statute as it does not
address these factors and the requisite qualifying and disqualifying conditions.
Second, the Guideline revision substitutes, for these specific factors,
a more general system analysis approach. OCRWM is proposing that, if the
overall performance at Yucca Mountain can be shown to meet the yet-to-be
promulgated Environmental Protection Agency radiation standards, then the
site should be recommended for development as a repository. Not only does
this approach violate the clear direction in the statute, but it ignores
the same technical factors described above that are not capable of being
evaluated in a total systems performance assessment.
One can only assume that the Department of Energy officials believes that
Yucca Mountain would be disqualified as a repository under the existing
Section 112(a) guidelines. This approach appears to continue a very disturbing
tradition of this program: If Yucca Mountain can't meet the safety rules
- then change the rules.
Madam Secretary, this approach is totally unacceptable, and the proposed
rule should be withdrawn. This is simply too important an issue to substitute
a new, subjective approach to determining the suitability of Yucca Mountain,
one that is of DOE's own making, for the clear, objective approach that
Congress prescribed in adopting section 112(a) of the Nuclear Waste Policy
Act of 1982, as amended.
The proposed approach, if adopted, will result in legal challenge by the
State of Nevada and further erode the credibility of an already controversial
program. This attempt to rewrite the law to eliminate the need to consider
and evaluate important factors which, if present as they appear to be,
would compromise the safety of the site and of the citizens of this state
far into the future, something that I, as Governor, will not allow to happen.