Last week the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) inspector general issued a report that found the commission’s chairman, Gregory Jaczko, withheld information from other commissioners in order to stop work on the Yucca Mountain, Nevada, nuclear waste repository. The report, however, did not accuse the chairman of violating any laws.
Today, a House Energy & Commerce subcommittee looked at the Obama Administration's decision to cancel the proposed national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.
In his opening statement, Committee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) presented the GOP line on the report by alleging that there are "multiple problems at NRC." Shimkus also raised questions about NRC's leadership.
Committee member Henry Waxman (D-CA) countered Shimkus by saying that no evidence of lawbreaking at NRC had occurred. Waxman then pressed the committee to instead look at improving procedures within the NRC. He also called for a fair and non-partisan investigation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the rest of the Nevada congressional delegation have long opposed using the site to store the nation’s nuclear waste, and Mr. Jaczko once worked for Senator Reid.
Yucca Mountain is located in southern Nevada, and was first chosen in the 1980's as a potential site for the long-term storage of civilian and military nuclear waste. In 2002 the Bush Administration chose it as the primary site for the nation's radiological waste, but Nevada's Republican Governor Kenny Guinn exercised his right to veto the decision, requiring Congress to act. In July of 2002 Congress voted to approve the site over the Governor's objection.
Chairman Jaczko is also scheduled to testify before a Senate Committee on Thursday about the safety of U.S. nuclear plants, but is almost certain to be questioned on the NRC Inspector General's report.