The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled a second set of closed-door meetings to discuss plans to bury the nation's nuclear waste in southern Nevada, prompting the state attorney general to lodge a complaint with the commission chair.
NRC staff members are scheduled to meet with Department of Energy officials next week in Las Vegas to evaluate plans for the Yucca Mountain site, which received congressional approval last year. The Energy Department is preparing an NRC licensing application to open the repository in 2010.
The NRC and the Energy Department held a set of closed-door meetings in Las Vegas in November. Those were protested by state officials and opponents to Yucca Mountain, which is located 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
State officials said Friday they have not received a satisfactory explanation why they are not allowed to attend these meetings.
"It's just clear they are blowing us off without any rationale," said Bob Loux, director of Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects.
Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval sent a complaint Tuesday to NRC chairman Nils Diaz.
"Other than matters concerning classified materials or homeland security issues, I cannot conceive of any reason that these meetings should be closed," Sandoval said.
Sandoval said the meetings would increase perceptions within the state that the NRC, an independent regulator, "is working hand-in-glove with DOE to build a repository at Yucca Mountain."
Last year, NRC Inspector General Hubert Bell investigated a similar complaint that Nevada leaders were being kept out of the loop on discussions between the NRC and the Energy Department on the repository. After a two-month investigation, Bell concluded the contacts were proper.