Report: Yucca termination set back search for nuclear waste site by 20 years

“[B]y terminating work on Yucca Mountain, DOE likely would have to restart the process for any alternative repository site, since every site is unique,” the report says.

“Some of the officials we spoke with estimated that the termination of Yucca Mountain could set back the opening of a new geologic repository by at least 20 years and cost billions of dollars. Some stakeholders referred to the termination as ‘kicking the can down the road.’ ”

The report was requested by top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and released publicly for the first time Monday night.

“It is alarming for this administration to discard 30 years of research and billions of taxpayer dollars spent, not for technical or safety reasons, but rather to satisfy temporary political calculations,” Rep. Fred Upton, (R-Mich.), the chairman of the committee, said in a statement.

The GAO also said delays in the completion of the Yucca Mountain project were a result of “social and political opposition to a permanent repository, not technical issues.”

Congress approved Yucca Mountain as the country’s nuclear waste repository in 1982. But the project has been mired by years of delay and opposition from Nevada lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).