Yucca could have ‘small’ groundwater impact, report finds

Yucca could have ‘small’ groundwater impact, report finds
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The proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain could have a “small” environmental impact on groundwater at the Nevada site, nuclear regulators said.

The finding came Thursday in a draft report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which is conducting a years-long environmental study into the stalled nuclear waste site.

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The report was careful not to overplay the potential effects of the project over the 1 million-year timeframe of the estimates.

“Based on conservative assumptions about the potential for health effects from exposure to low doses of radiation, the NRC staff expects that the estimated radiation dose would contribute only a negligible increase in the risk of cancer or severe hereditary effects in the potentially exposed population,” the report said.

The NRC’s evaluation is an important step toward building the controversial repository, which Congress authorized in 1987.

The Energy Department and President Obama do not want to build it, but the NRC is still obligated to review the 2008 application.

In January, the NRC staff completed the main components of their review, concluding that the site would be safe for 1 million years.

But it also pointed out that the Energy Department does not own all of the land and water rights for the planned projects, and Congress would have to transfer some land from the Department of Defense before construction could start.