March 16, 2010 / 8:39 PM / in 8 years

US state agencies push to keep Yucca nuclear site

* State regulators want to make case for keeping Yucca

* Government obligated to dispose of nuclear waste

* Pulling Yucca license could delay repository for 25 yrs

By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) - U.S. state utility regulators on Tuesday blasted the White House’s decision to scrap the planned nuclear dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, signaling they plan to fight to keep the project alive.

The Obama administration this month asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to pull the license application for the Yucca waste storage site.

Energy analysts had expected the Yucca Mountain project, long delayed by political and technical setbacks, would be shelved when the NRC rules on the Energy Department’s request to stop the licensing.

But the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners said pulling the application would undermine the government’s obligation to dispose of the nation’s nuclear waste.

“If the motion is successful, and history is any indication, it will effectively delay (the Department of Energy‘s) ability to finally begin to accept waste for at least 25 years,” the state regulators said.

The state regulators have filed a legal petition with the nuclear commission to allow the group to formally make its case against pulling the Yucca license application.

Nuclear waste is currently stored on site around the country, which experts say poses security, legal and environmental risks. With Yucca Mountain off the table, the waste issue could limit the growth of the industry going forward. [ID:nN16251516] (Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; editing by Julie Ingwersen)

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