Energy Department Says Yucca Mountain Faces Funding Shortfall

The proposed nuclear-waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada will need up to three times its current funding or the program's 2017 opening date will have to be delayed.

That's according to a top Energy Department official's testimony today (Thursday).

Edward F. Sproat III, director of the agency's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, told the House Budget Committee that beginning next year a doubling or tripling of annual project funding would be needed.

The cost of building and operating the nuclear waste site through 2119 was estimated in 2001 to be $57.5 billion, including costs incurred since the project began in 1983.

Sproat says a revised estimate expected by the end of this year will include the cost of accepting about 30 percent more spent nuclear fuel through the repository's closing in 2133.

Sproat estimated that funding is currently insufficient by about $1 billion to $1.5 billion per year.

Also Thursday, the Energy Department issued a final supplement to the environmental impact study it issued in 2002 on the project which incorporates design changes since then.

It also released an impact study on two proposed rail links to the site from Nevada towns Mina and Caliente and set a 90-day comment period that ends January 10th.

The department scheduled eight public hearings in Nevada and California on the studies from mid-November to early December.

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