The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in June spent just over $2,000 of its remaining balance from the Nuclear Waste Fund, leaving it with $455,063 absent an infusion of money from Congress.
The Nuclear Waste Fund is intended to pay for licensing and construction of a permanent repository for U.S. spent nuclear reactor fuel and high-level defense waste. The NRC would rule on the license application from the Department of Energy, filed in 2008 for a facility to be built below Yucca Mountain, Nev. The Obama administration halted the Yucca licensing process in 2010, but a federal appeals court in August 2013 ordered the NRC to resume its proceeding.
The agency had $13.5 million available from the fund at that time and since then has spent just under $13.1 billion. With the major projects completed – including the $8.4 million completion of a safety evaluation report for the repository – spending is down to a trickle.
In June, the commission spent $1,061 “support costs chargeable to NWW funds,” the report says. That covered program support activities and work on addresing the Nevada state government’s request for new Commissioner David Wright to recuse himself from the licensing proceeding, an NRC spokesman said Wednesday. Wright refused.
The remaining $1,111 in costs that month were split between two projects: a February meeting of the Licensing Support Network Advisory Review Board, to consider options for reviving the document database for the NRC license review; and information-gathering about potential venues should the adjudication of the license resume.
Hearings previously were held in Las Vegas, and lawmakers from the state have pressed the NRC to ensure Nevada again hosts the sessions should they resume.
The June outlay left the agency with an unexpended balance of $484,984. Minus funds already committed, it has $455,063.
Commission leadership has said it cannot resume the actual adjudication without additional appropriations from Congress. The Trump administration has requested funding toward this for both fiscal 2018 and the upcoming fiscal 2019; while the House has supported the requests, the Senate has balked and so far gotten its way when it comes to funding for Yucca Mountain.