U.S. Civilian Radioactive Waste Management R.I.P. 1982-2010

The Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCWRM) died yesterday evening, September 30, 2010, at midnight. It was 28–years–old. According to a spokesman, the cause of death was ’the Administration's decision not to pursue development of a repository at Yucca Mountain.”

The OCRWM was conceived in 1982 by the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives. It spent its early years shuttling between homes at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State, a Deaf Smith County site in Texas, Yucca Mountain in Nevada and a home office in Washington, D.C., as well as a potential Monitored Retrievable Storage site in Tennessee. Since 1987, the OCRWM divided its time exclusively between Yucca Mountain and Washington, D.C.

From 1987 until 2002, the OCRWM was involved in characterizing the Yucca Mountain site as a potential national high-level waste repository. In February 2002, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham determined that Yucca Mountain was suitable for development under the auspices of the OCRWM as a national repository. The recommendation, which was concurred upon by President George W. Bush and later “vetoed”by the State of Nevada, was eventually approved overwhelmingly by the U.S Congress in July 2002.

The highlight of the OCRWM's career was the submission of a license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2008. The OCRWM suffered from chronic financial problems —despite a large trust fund — during its lifetime — which ultimately proved fatal. Despite persistent financial concerns, the OCRWM still managed to spend approximately $10 billion during its tenure at the Energy Department.

The OCRWM is survived by 121 above-ground sites located within 75 miles of more than 161 million people in 39 states, a pending license application at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a potential national repository site in Yucca Mountain, over 60 lawsuits in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, multi-party litigation in the U.S. District Court of Appeals, a still outstanding U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission review of an Atomic Safety Licensing Board rejection of a Energy Department license withdrawal request, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future and a Nuclear Waste Fund containing an estimated $23 billion.

[Web Source - Nuclear Townhall]

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