Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


OLYMPIA…Washington State Senior Counsel Andy Fitz will appear tomorrow before the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia as lead counsel for several jurisdictions urging the court to force a federal regulatory agency to move forward in the licensing process, issue a decision within 14 months and break the logjam preventing completion of a national repository for America’s high-level treated nuclear waste.

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s failure to complete the licensing proceeding for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Storage facility puts the people of Washington—and specifically those living near the Hanford Nuclear reservation-- at significant risk,” said Attorney General Rob McKenna.  “Roughly 53 million gallons of nuclear waste is stored in 177 large underground tanks—of which 149 are 42 years beyond their expected 25-year design life. Of the 149 tanks, more than one-third are known or suspected to be leaking, releasing roughly 1 million gallons of waste to Hanford’s surrounding soils. Hanford lacks the storage capacity to retrieve the waste from these tanks until the waste treatment and disposal process is underway.”

“Millions of hours and billions of dollars have been spent to research the safe disposal of our treated high-level waste and that of other states at the Yucca Mountain facility,” McKenna continued. “Yucca Mountain remains the only Congressionally-approved high-level nuclear waste repository in the nation. We argue that when it enacted the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, Congress selected a process for licensing a national high level waste repository and NRC has failed to provide any lawful justification for not following the law.  We also note that, over the last two plus years of discussing this topic, the administration has yet to provide any scientific evidence sufficient to remove Yucca Mountain from consideration.”

Fitz will present arguments tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

The case is one of several Washington has filed in an attempt to hold the Obama administration accountable for adhering to the federal Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

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Additional information 

State's reply brief

Contacts: Janelle Guthrie, Deputy Chief of Staff/Communications Director, (360) 586-0725