June 10, 2011 in Nation/World

NRC chief hid material, feds say

Information about Yucca site withheld
Dina Cappiello Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has strategically withheld and controlled information to steer decisions his way on closing a proposed radioactive waste dump, according to an internal investigation.

The seven-month inquiry by the agency’s inspector general says that NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko was “not forthcoming” to other commissioners when he decided to shut down in October the technical review of the Energy Department’s application for an underground nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

But the investigation found no instances in which he broke the law, as some have alleged. Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee requested the report, which was obtained by the Associated Press.

Jaczko said the report’s findings “reaffirm that my actions have been and remain consistent with established law, guidance and my authorities as chairman.”

He called the shutdown of Yucca Mountain a complicated issue.

Republicans and many Democrats outside Nevada favor creation of single storage site for nuclear waste, but the Yucca Mountain project is fiercely opposed by Nevada lawmakers, including Senate Majority Harry Reid, who has vowed to do everything in his power to kill it. The license for the Yucca Mountain, which has been in development for nearly 30 years and cost more than $15 billion so far, has been in limbo since last June, when a licensing board independent of Jaczko and the rest of the commission rejected the Obama administration’s request to withdraw the project application. Jaczko has yet to schedule a final vote from the five-member commission on the matter.

In the meantime, the report says, Jaczko first told his staff to proceed with the review but in October changed course and instructed them to halt work on the project.

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