Officials see no Yucca Mountain delay despite missed report date

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Missing a self-imposed deadline to certify Yucca Mountain project information for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission might not delay the Energy Department's schedule for opening the national nuclear waste dump, officials said.

"I see a high quality license application in December," Joseph Ziegler, of the Energy Department Office of Repository Development, said Thursday in Washington, D.C.

The Energy Department had planned to provide millions of documents to the NRC by Wednesday - a required six months before applying for a license to open the nuclear waste dump in 2010.

Officials agreed this week the department faces few consequences if it still submits a license application in December to open the repository 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to take at least three years evaluating the application. Regulations call for planners to certify that everything known about the project is in a database to be turned over to the commission to support the license request.

Ziegler told the NRC Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste that about 50 scientific questions remain to be answered by August, and updates to other reports should be completed by September.

He said department technical staff was up to the challenge, and said there should be no technical errors.

Charles Fitzpatrick, a McLean, Va., lawyer handling Nevada's opposition to the Yucca Mountain project, said he expects certification of the database will come in the next few days. That would still allow the license application to be submitted in December.

Fitzpatrick said a larger delay could come if the commission finds the documentation insufficient.


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