U.S. NRC Blog

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Yucca Mountain Documents Now Publicly Available – In a New Online Library

David McIntyre
Public Affairs Officer

The NRC is flipping the switch today on its new LSN Library — making nearly 3.7 million documents related to the adjudicatory hearing on the proposed Yucca Mountain repository available to the public.

yuccatunnelThe library makes the discovery documents by various parties to the hearing public for the first time in five years, and with enhanced search capabilities. The new LSN Library is part of the NRC’s online documents database, known as ADAMS. Although the NRC staff’s discovery documents were already publicly available in ADAMS, those materials have been incorporated into the LSN Library to permit “one-stop” searching for Yucca-related technical information.

Here’s the genesis of the new library: The NRC created the Licensing Support Network, or LSN, back in 2001, years before the Department of Energy submitted its application in 2008 for construction authorization for a high-level waste repository at Yucca Mountain. The network was designed to allow easy access to the volumes of discovery documents that would support various aspects of the hearing.

The LSN was a database that required participants to house their documents on their own servers that were accessible for “crawling” by LSN software maintained by the NRC. This software created a document index. Participants and the public could search the index and generate a link to relevant documents on the participants’ home servers.

The LSN worked smoothly through the early stages of the hearing. But then the Department of Energy shut down the Yucca Mountain Project in 2010, and the NRC staff proceeded with an “orderly closure” of its review of DOE’s license application. As part of the orderly closure, an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel’s Construction Authorization Board suspended the hearing in September 2011. The LSN was closed down the previous month, with the CAB directing the parties (other than the NRC staff, whose documents were already public in ADAMS) to provide all their LSN documents to the NRC’s Office of the Secretary.

Then in August 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the NRC to resume its review of DOE’s Yucca Mountain application, using previously appropriated money from the Nuclear Waste Fund.

The Commission directed the staff to finish and publish its Safety Evaluation Report, the main technical review of the application. The staff published the final volumes in January 2015. Then the Commission directed the staff to prepare a supplement to DOE’s Environmental Impact Statement, covering certain groundwater issues that were not fully analyzed in the EIS. The staff issued the final supplement this past May.

Additionally, the Commission directed that if there was enough money remaining, the LSN documents should be made publicly available. As explained in a paper published August 12, that’s the work being completed now with activation of the LSN Library.

The library is significant for three reasons. First, it meets federal records requirements. Second, the library again provides public access to the previously-disclosed discovery materials should the Yucca Mountain adjudicatory hearing resume. Third, should the Yucca Mountain hearing not resume, the library will provide an important source of technical information for any future high-level waste repository licensing proceeding.

And of course, the library helps us meet the NRC’s goal of being an open and transparent regulator.

5 responses to “Yucca Mountain Documents Now Publicly Available – In a New Online Library

  1. Bradley Nickell June 6, 2017 at 2:06 am

    I’m having a hard time finding where public comments should be made regarding Yucca Mountain licensing. I’ll leave my comments here, hoping they will be registered to the appropriate place. If there’s a better place for me to do this, please provide a link.

    Most of Nevada’s lawmakers on the local, state, and federal level are ignoring the will of many of the people they represent. They are opposing the Yucca Mountain licensing without even engaging the people they represent. I live in Las Vegas and have sent several emails to lawmakers on all levels without receiving even one reply.

    Several Nevada lawmakers cite fears of negative impact on Nevada’s tourism industry without explaining how it would have any impact. They don’t explain why any tourist would have concern for a facility approximately 100 miles from Las Vegas.

    It seems natural to consider that storage and transportation technologies have improved by leaps and bounds in the past twenty-plus years, without consideration from the Nevada politicians. If the science proves Yucca Mountain to not be suitable, another location in the vast Nevada deserts shouldn’t be difficult to identify.

    I have always believed Nevada lawmakers should negotiate and get something out of it for Nevadans. The Alaska Permanent Fund should be used as a model.

    Most people are unaware that every Alaskan resident, including minors, receive an annual dividend check of approximately $2000 from the fund for the oil pipeline running through their state. https://pfd.alaska.gov/

    Perhaps a constructive change to this model would be to have the states and other entities using the storage facility pay for Nevada high school graduates to receive free tuition to Nevada public universities.

    Doing so would increase slumping graduation rates, provide access to higher education to many who can’t afford it, and attract other industries to Nevada because we will have a better educated workforce. These other industries would diversify Nevada’s economy and make it less susceptible to flux in the tourist and construction industries.

    Unfortunately, Nevada’s lawmakers are presently deaf to their constituents.

    • Moderator June 6, 2017 at 9:28 am

      You are probably thinking of this Federal Register notice ( https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-05-31/pdf/2017-11177.pdf ) published May 31. It was reported – erroneously – in the Las Vegas newspapers and some Washington outlets as the NRC taking the initial steps to restart the Yucca Mountain licensing process, as the Trump Administration has said it wants to do. However, the notice really was a routine move we are required by the Office of Management and Budget to take every three years under the Paperwork Reduction Act. That law requires us to renew our authority to collect information on a variety of licensing issues – in this case, our regulations regarding licensing Yucca Mountain. There will be another notice in about three months when we complete the process by formally applying for the extension.

      That said, you may submit your comments according to the instructions in the May 31 Federal Register notice. Just be aware that comments for or against Yucca Mountain are not exactly what we were asking for.

      Dave McIntyre

      • Bradley Nickell June 6, 2017 at 6:16 pm

        Thank you, Mr. McIntyre. Is there at some point going to be a place where public comments are made and recorded?

        Bradley Nickell

      • Moderator June 7, 2017 at 9:19 am

        The May 31 Federal Register notice describes several ways people can view the comments we receive on this request, including the federal rulemaking website at https://www.regulations.gov.

        Dave McIntyre

  2. christopherschaffner August 27, 2016 at 1:40 am

    “thank you”

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