20 March 2006

Utah Nuclear Waste Site Moves Forward

A plan to build a private nuclear waste dump in Skull Valley, Utah, an Indian reservation, while the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site faces long delays, is going forward having won a permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to open, and could open within three years. The State of Utah is fighting permit to transport nuclear waste to the site, but given legal principals like the dormant commerce clause and the existence of the NRC permit, it is unlikely to prevail. The plan is for Skull Valley to be a medium term way station (the permit has a twenty year term and is for above ground storage) for waste en route to Yucca Mountain, which is in Nye County, Nevada.

This approval could dramatically change the politics of nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal. If the nation's backlog of high level nuclear waste does make its way to Skull Valley, states concerned about the transit of large volumes of nuclear waste over their territory and opposed to Yucca Mountain on that basis will no longer be concerned about the issue. And, once those backlogs are dealt with an in economical manner, the uncertainties associated with high level nuclear waste storage will largely be resolved. This, in turn, would make new nuclear power plants more attractive options.

No comments: