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Appeal on Yucca decision denied

WASHINGTON — A federal court is standing by its decision that the government should resume license hearings for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site.

The U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Monday dismissed a request by the state of Nevada that the case be reheard. The decision came without explanation in a one-sentence order.

The order clears the way for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to move forward on restarting its evaluation of the controversial Nevada site 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The agency has not yet announced the specifics of how it intends to comply with the ruling issued Aug. 13 by a three-judge court of appeals panel. The court ruled the NRC broke the law when it suspended Yucca Mountain proceedings in 2011.

Arguing the ruling was flawed, attorneys for Nevada asked that the Yucca case be reheard en banc, by the full complement of circuit judges.

“We’re disappointed but not surprised,” said Marta Adams, Nevada chief deputy attorney general. “These things are not frequently granted.”

Adams said officials were conferring this week with the state’s outside nuclear waste counsel on what if any response might be taken to the ruling, such as whether to seek a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Also, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the State of Nevada announced the dates for two public meetings on the Consolidated Edison Uranium Solidification Project (CEUSP) shipment of uranium to the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) and disposal plans. A hearing is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Nevada Treasure RV Resort in Pahrump.

Under the plan, 403 canisters of low-level waste containing Uranium 233 will be shipped to the NNSS, formerly known as the Nevada Test Site that were generated as part of a research program at the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in West Valley, New York in 1968 then transferred to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for storage.

Energy department experts will be on hand to brief members of the public on the history and nature of the project and disposal options.

The DOE said it performed all necessary safety, security and risk assessments in order to determine that it met all requirements to dispose of this material at the NNSS facility. NNSS fills a critical national security role for the nation through work with the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The site has successfully disposed of U-233 from other sources in the past.

Opponents say it will be a more highly radioactive form of nuclear waste than is typically deposited at the NNSS.

Representatives from the DOE and the State of Nevada met in Washington, D.C., in October for the first formal meeting of a new working group established by U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. This summer, Governor Sandoval and Secretary Moniz agreed to establish the working group to help strengthen communications and collaboration on issues important to both the Department and Nevada.

The group also agreed the importance of improving public outreach efforts this fall on the Department’s activities at the NNSS. The other meeting will take place at the Cashman Center, 850 N. Las Vegas Blvd. in Las Vegas on Nov. 13.

Questions are encouraged in advance of the meeting. The public is asked to submit their questions by Friday, November 8, 2013, to nevada@nnsa.doe.gov. Anyone who wants more information, may call 1-702-295-3521. Additional information can be found at www.nv.energy.gov/llwdisposal.aspx.

Steve Tetreault of the Stephens Media Washington Bureau contributed to this report.