A congressional panel last week questioned U.S. Department of Energy officials about the costs of not opening a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The state of South Carolina and Aiken County (the home of the Savannah River Site) are suing the federal government over the prospect of not having a safe, national place to store this waste.
Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian listened to the congressional testimony with interest and says, “Anything that keeps the message out there that we need to keep moving toward a solution– we think that the solution has already been found with Yucca Mountain and that’s what our lawsuit is all about.”
Last week the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court delayed a hearing that was scheduled for September 23 to await a ruling by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on whether DOE Secretary Chu can “take back” his own agency’s application to open Yucca Mountain to the nation’s nuclear waste.
Killian says Aiken and other communities now combined in one lawsuit are taking issue with abruptly stopping Yucca Mountain without a clear alternative in place. He says its a complicated issue because they are fighting the federal government on many fronts:
We brought action based on the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, the national Environmental Policy Act, and the Constitutional Separation of Powers argument. There are a couple of other arguments from different people that have all been consolidated now, but ours was actually the first one filed. It’s referenced as the “Aiken County case” now.