NRC: Yucca Mountain repository licensing to cost $330 million


Completing the licensing process for construction of the Yucca Mountain used-fuel repository would require an estimated $330 million from Congress, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Stephen Burns said while appearing recently before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development hearing.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn), the subcommittee's chairman, promised to hold more hearings on the matter due to the importance of nuclear power in the nation’s energy profile, stating that it would “be a shame to allow nuclear energy to decline in this country” and emphasizing its potential to combat any threat of climate change. Other topics discussed at the hearing included the cumulative impact of regulation on the industry, the second licensing renewal of operating reactors and the anticipated opening of the Watts Bar 2 nuclear reactor later this year.

Burns confirmed the NRC’s intention to prepare for second license-renewal applications, which if approved would extend a reactor’s total operating life to 80 years, despite the fact that no nuclear facility to date has ever requested a second licensing renewal. Burns said that as long as the facility can continue to operate safely, a second license renewal would be possible.

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