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EA-0073: Final Environmental Assessment

Yucca Mountain Site, Nevada Research and Development Area, Nevada

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (the Act) established a process for the selection of sites for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in geologic repositories. The first steps in this process were the identification of potentially acceptable sites and the development of general guidelines for siting repositories. In February 1983 the DOE identified nine sites in six States as potentially acceptable for the first repository. The Yucca Mountain site in Nye County, Nevada, was identified as one of those sites. The general guidelines were issued in November 1984 as Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 960. The DOE is now proceeding with the next step in the site-selection process for the first repository: the nomination of at least five of the nine potentially acceptable sites as suitable for site characterization, which is a program of detailed studies.

The Act requires that site nomination be accompanied by an environmental assessment (EA). The DOE has prepared EAs for the nominated sites through a process that provided opportunity for public input, Public hearings were held during March, April, and May 1983 to obtain recommendations on the issues to be addressed in an EA. All such recommendations were considered in preparing the EAs. The DOE issued draft EAs for public review and comment in December 1984 and conducted a series of public hearings in February and March 1985. The issues raised in the comment letters and hearings were considered in preparing the final EAs. These issues are addressed in a comment-response document appended to the final EAs (Appendix C).

The information presented in the EAs is derived from hundreds of technical reports containing more-detailed data and analyses. All of these reference documents are available to the public in various libraries and reading rooms; a listing of their locations is given in Appendix B.

After the nomination, the Secretary is required by the Act to recommend to the President not fewer than three of the nominated sites for characterization as candidate sites for the first repository. This recommendation will be submitted and documented in a separate report that is being issued separately from this environmental assessment. After submittal, the Act provides the President 60 days to approve or disapprove the candidate sites. The President may delay his decision for up to six months if he determines that the information supplied with the recommendation of the Secretary is insufficient to permit a decision within the 60-day period. If the President does not approve, disapprove, or delay the decision, the candidate sites shall be considered approved. After the President approves the candidate sites, the DOE will start site characterization.