Energy & Environment

Feds begin 'information gathering' work for Yucca nuclear waste site

Federal officials have voted to begin "information gathering activities" related to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository site in Nevada.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted 2-1 to begin holding "virtual meetings" and hear from the public about reconstructing a database of documents related to the proposed plan to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.

The commission voted to dip into its $634,000 Nuclear Waste Fund to support the information gathering efforts. The total cost of the activities could hit $110,000, the NRC said in a statement.

The vote itself does not restart the licensing process for Yucca, which has been mothballed by federal law.

But it comes as the Trump administration aims to restart that process.

The White House has requested $120 million in funding next fiscal year to begin laying the groundwork for a waste disposal site at Yucca, despite opposition to the project in Nevada.

In statements explaining their votes, NRC Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki and Commissioner Stephen Burns said the information gathering amounted to what Svinicki called "appropriate steps to develop the agency's readiness to execute the budget requested" by Trump.

In a statement, Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) said the vote is "another sign the Trump administration continue to stack the deck against Nevada."

She added, "Despite the fact that lawmakers have yet to do so, the NRC's approval of these funds is based on the assumption that lawmakers will appropriate more money to revive the licensing process."

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