Volume 1 Issue 7 ~
March 6, 2003
The NRC Inspector General's whitewash of charges that DOE and NRC conspired to exclude the State of Nevada representatives from key meetings and interactions relating to NRC’s licensing process for the proposed Yucca Mountain repository clearly dispels any notion of openness and fairness with respect to NRC's licensing process for Yucca Mountain.
According to the IG, any time the two agencies want to meet in secret or cover up some inconvenient finding regarding Yucca Mountain, they need only categorize the interaction as an “informal meeting” permitted under the NRC’s regulations. There are no checks and balances – and no recourse – to assure that under-the-table and underhanded deals are not being made.
Nevada’s Attorney General and congressional delegation had requested the investigation when word leaked out of secret meetings between DOE and NRC staff on crucial site suitability and licensing issues. As the party most affected and the principal intervener in any licensing proceeding, the State of Nevada has a right to be present whenever DOE and NRC meet to discuss Yucca Mountain issues.
Nevada has good cause to suspect NRC’s and DOE’s motives. Litigation currently pending before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals documents a long and sordid history of DOE-NRC collusion with respect to the illegal replacement of DOE’s site evaluation guidelines and NRC’s licensing regulations that would have required the abandonment of the Yucca Mountain site.
NRC’s licensing process for Yucca Mountain is already mired in institutionalized bias. Under the rules, NRC staff actually function as chief advocates for the project applicant (in this case DOE) during the licensing proceedings and plead the applicant’s case before the Commission’s licensing board. The same NRC staff will also decide what issues will be allowed consideration during licensing. Quite a sweet deal for DOE.
The IG’s whitewash of illegal DOE – NRC interactions has given official sanction to continued and increased sub rosa shenanigans between DOE and NRC and will encourage ever-more-blatant illegal deal-making. Any remaining illusion of NRC as an impartial or objective arbiter should have put to rest permanently by the IG’s action.
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