Nuclear regulator: Yucca dump site meets safety standards

The nation’s top nuclear energy regulator said on Thursday that the Energy Department’s plans for closing and storing nuclear waste indefinitely at the controversial Yucca Mountain dump site in Nevada would meet safety requirements.

The dump site, for which the administration pulled the licensing application in 2010, is at the heart of a longstanding feud between Democrats and Republicans.

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued Thursday’s report after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit directed the agency to resume the evaluation last year.

The NRC said after reviewing information from the Energy Department that it found the site “design meets the requirements that apply after the repository is permanently closed.”

That means the proposed site can safely store the nation’s nuclear waste for one million years — the federal threshold — once it’s closed.

Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) cheered the report, calling it an “important” evaluation.

“The release of this game-changing report marks a critical milestone in restoring America’s nuclear leadership,” Upton said in a statement on Thursday.

“Science, not politics, should determine Yucca’s course, and this report confirms that Yucca Mountain has met the safety requirements. After a four-year delay, the public now has the benefit of the first independent safety assessment of Yucca Mountain, and can now have confidence that the repository would be in fact ‘safe for a million years,’ ” Upton added.

Upton said last month that a vote on the Yucca site would be a priority for Republicans if the party were to take the majority in the Senate after the midterms.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight MORE (D-Nev.) tried to shoot down talk about reviving Yucca before the Senate left for recess, saying “as long as I’m around, there’s no Yucca Mountain.”

On Thursday Reid blasted the report as “useless” and a “waste of millions dollars.”

“The Energy Department will not pursue licensing Yucca, and Nevada has persistently opposed the dump,” Reid said.

“I will continue doing everything in my power to ensure that the project is never resurrected and doesn’t receive another dime. Americans want to see nuclear waste dealt with in a safe and responsible way that gives states and communities a meaningful voice, and Yucca fails in every way,” he added.