December 22, 1999
Mr. Ivan Itkin, Acting Director
Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20585
Dear Mr. Itkin:
I am writing to register my strong objection to the action taken by OCRWM initiating a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the purpose of revising the General Guidelines for Recommendation of Sites for Nuclear Waste Repositories. While the State of Nevada strongly objects to proposed revisions contained in the Notice and will be providing a detailed response in due course, the purpose of this letter is to protest the timing of the comment period and public hearing dates.
As you are aware, DOE is currently in the process of soliciting comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Yucca Mountain repository program. The comment period for the draft EIS extends through February 9, 2000, with public hearings scheduled through January 20th. The State of Nevada and affected units of local government have had to invest considerable time and resources in reviewing the 1,400 plus pages of the draft EIS and its supporting documentation. We are also participating in the various EIS hearings, and we are in the time intensive process of preparing written comments for submission to DOE by the February 9th deadline.
The decision by OCRWM to impose another major review, comment, and public hearing process on top of that already ongoing for the draft EIS is entirely unreasonable and inappropriate. Such decision has the effect of severely limiting State and local governments' ability to adequately respond to both equally critical initiatives. Establishing a deadline of February 14, 2000 for receipt of comments on the proposed Guidelines revisions (just 5 days following the close of the draft EIS comment period) poses an unacceptable burden on affected parties. In addition, the scheduling of public hearings on the Guidelines proposal for January 18th and 19th, 2000 conflicts with the final EIS hearing slated for January 20th, with county commission meetings for several of the affected local governments at which EIS comments must be approved for submission, and with Nuclear Regulatory Commission meetings.
There does not appear to be any valid reason why the comment period and public hearings for the Guidelines rulemaking needs to coincide and conflict with critical deadlines for the draft EIS comment period. I am therefore asking that the deadline for making comments with respect to the proposed revisions to the Siting Guidelines be extended for at least 60 days and that the public hearings now scheduled for January 18th and 19th be postponed and rescheduled for after the close of the comment period on the draft Yucca Mountain EIS.
Robert R. Loux