The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in April spent $6,275 of its remaining balance from the federal Nuclear Waste Fund, leaving it with $458,599 until Congress provides another appropriation.
Most of the spending — $5,356 – reflects “trailing costs” from a two-day virtual meeting in February of the NRC’s Licensing Support Network (LSN) Advisory Review Panel, along with information collection on potential sites for resumption of adjudication hearings for the Energy Department license application for the planned nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The remaining $919 was spent on unspecified program planning and support, according to the NRC’s latest Nuclear Waste Fund spending report to Congress.
The Nuclear Waste Fund is intended to pay for NRC and DOE licensing of Yucca Mountain and then for construction of the repository for spent nuclear reactor fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The Obama administration stopped work in 2010, but a federal court in August 2013 ordered the NRC to continue the licensing process. The regulator as of April had spent over $13 million of the $13.5 million it had available from the fund at the time of the ruling. Nearly $11.5 million of that went toward completing a safety evaluation report on Yucca Mountain, shifting documents from the Licensing Support Network to the NRC’s online documents library, and preparing a supplement to the environmental impact statement for the license application.
Of the remaining $497,945 balance as of April, $39,346 is unspent but already committed, largely for contracts with the Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses and contracts from the February LNSARP meeting.
The NRC does not have enough money to actually resume the license application adjudication. The agency requested $30 million for fiscal 2018, but Congress provided no Yucca funding for DOE or the NRC. The regulator is asking for nearly $48 million in its fiscal 2019 budget proposal; the House Appropriations Committee backed the request in its energy and water funding bill, but the Senate version again offers nothing for Yucca licensing.