Licensing Support Network Certification
The internet database, or LSN, is required to be certified by the NRC as complete and available to the public for six months before the NRC can begin to review DOE's license application. (Click for more on the licensing proceedings.)
The Department of Energy (DOE) issued its database certification on June 30, six months before its late December goal to submit the license application.
However, the State of Nevada challenged the LSN database, saying DOE rushed an incomplete job to stay on deadline. Attorneys for the state argued 30 million pages of documents and more than 4 million e-mails were missing, while access to documents on key issues such as repository canister corrosion was blocked by being improperly classified for secrecy.
A three-judge NRC licensing board agreed with the state in a 54-page ruling that struck down DOE's certification. The ruling pointed out that despite having had 15 years to produce and review documents on Yucca, DOE still fell significantly short of meeting LSN database requirements.
The Energy Department agreed to abide by the judges' ruling that the database was incomplete and continued to work on document production.
Department of Energy Appeals Ruling
On September 10, 2004, DOE filed an appeal asking the NRC to overturn one part of the LSN decision. The Department did not dispute the finding that the database was incomplete. But DOE asked the NRC Board to strike down a requirement for all documents to be indexed and reviewed by an LSN administrator before the database can be recertified.
Documents are indexed, or added to the LSN search engine, by an LSN Administrator, who also audits and verifies document integrity. The LSN Administrator works for the NRC.
DOE, who has no control over the LSN Administrator's work or schedule, says it should not be penalized if the Administrator is running behind. The LSN database must be certified and available to the public for at least 6 months before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will consider DOE's license application. DOE is trying to stick to its schedule to open the repository by 2010.
If DOE wins the appeal, the Licensing Support Network could be recertified even if all the documents had not yet been indexed to the database. Likewise, the 6-month clock on public availability would start even if a large number of documents were unindexed (and thus unavailable).
The Energy Department argued in its appeal brief that there were no laws or regulations requiring all documents to be indexed before LSN certification. DOE added that any documents not yet indexed to the database would be available on DOE's own website.
However, both the State of Nevada and the NRC judges who issued the ruling maintain that the Yucca documents will be valid only after they have been indexed and verified in the third-party, neutral LSN.
For the latest on this issue, please visit the what's new page.
Back to Litigation