Honorable Richard A. Meserve, Chairman
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
Dear Chairman Meserve:
I am writing in objection to the process by which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concurred in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) proposed new siting guidelines (10 CFR Part 963) for the Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste repository site. The fact that this concurrence was given without any opportunity for the State of Nevada, affected local governments, or the public to comment or provide input is disconcerting given NRC's expressed desire to conduct its Yucca Mountain activities in a manner that promotes public involvement and confidence in the NRC's independence and objectivity.
A review of the correspondence between the State and NRC demonstrates that the State has long expressed a justifiably strong interest in the scope and timing of the concurrence process, and that NRC acknowledged and supported this interest. In your letter of June 21, 2000, to Robert Loux, Executive Director of Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects, you stated NRC would promptly notify the State and other interested participants of its decision with respect to the concurrence process, however, such notice was never provided.
In a subsequent letter to Mr. Loux dated October 19, 2001, you notified the State that the concurrence process had already taken place, and that NRC concurred in the new DOE rule on September 24, 2001. Interestingly, Mr. Loux and representatives from local governments met two days later with an NRC commissioner and NRC staff and were assured of NRC's intent to take into consideration Nevada's concerns regarding the concurrence process. At no time during the September 26th meeting were the Nevada representatives informed that concurrence had already been given.
I am deeply concerned with the manner in which the concurrence process was handled. I am requesting that, in the future, every decision made and action taken by NRC with regard to the Yucca Mountain program be carried out openly, with ample opportunity for public as well as state and local government input.