Keywords: long-, term ecological studies, nuclear waste repository, Yucca Mountain, USA, United States, nuclear energy, nuclear power, environmental impact
A critique of the Department of Energy's environmental programme for the proposed high-level nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, USA
Legislative standards, regulatory provisions, and US Department of Energy (DOE) policies have defined the environmental programme to study the planned high-level nuclear waste repository site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The DOE has limited environmental data collection for purposes of monitoring and mitigating impacts of proposed characterisation activities and repository development. Most of the plans are procedural and do not provide for the gathering of baseline data prior to site characterisation activities. The absence of baseline data prior to site characterisation activities reduces the chances of developing a comprehensive and integrated environmental programme to detect and remedy disturbed areas critical to the performance of the repository as well as to assess repository performance properly. The lack of long-term ecological studies means also that interactions between the geohydrologic setting of the repository and the biosphere will not be understood fully.