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Washington, DC - U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today filed a request with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to withdraw with prejudice the application for the Yucca Mountain Repository. The decision, if approved with prejudice, would prohibit the site from ever being considered as a destination for the nation's nuclear waste and spent fuel.

"This decision is a slap in the face to the millions of American nuclear energy consumers who have waited 30 years and paid more than $16 billion to study and construct a repository at Yucca Mountain," said Senator Jim Risch, ranking Republican on the Senate Energy Subcommittee. "Yucca is one of the most studied pieces of ground on the planet and dozens of scientific studies over the past decade have clearly shown it is the best place to store nuclear waste."

The decision is of particular interest to Idaho since the Department of Energy has a binding contract with the state to remove all nuclear waste material from the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) by 2035. Risch questioned Chu on that issue during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2009.

"Last March, Secretary Chu acknowledged the urgency of solving the nuclear waste storage issue and that no viable alternative to Yucca was on the table. A year later, the administration is pulling the application back without providing any scientific or legal justification and more importantly with no alternative.

"The decision is especially disappointing given President Obama's recent announcement of loan guarantees for two new reactors. His about-face demonstrates he is not serious about doing what is necessary to create a nuclear renaissance in the United States. Unfortunately, it appears politics is pushing a decision that will perpetuate bad policies, harm our economy and force the federal government to breach its contract with the state of Idaho."

Note: Video of Risch's exchange with Chu last March can be seen here.