Energy Department revises cost estimate for Yucca Mountain project

The Energy Department Tuesday put the cost of a long-standing plan to build a controversial nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada at more than $90 billion.

The figure is the first official estimate of the controversial project since 2001 when the cost of storing nuclear waste on the site was estimated at $58 billion.

And it includes about $9 billion already spent and covers about 100 years of operation at the site.

Ward Sproat, the Energy Department official in charge of Yucca Mountain, disclosed the new figure after a House subcommittee hearing on the site.

Sproat expected the exact figure and cost breakdowns will be given to Congress in the next few weeks.

Sproat told the House Energy and Commerce Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee funding for Yucca Mountain was inadequate. Assuming Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval, "the (Energy) Department could be ready to begin accepting spent nuclear fuel by 2020, but only if adequate funding is provided," he said.

Sproat estimated between $1.2 billion and $1.9 billion is needed for construction and operation, far below present appropriations.

Sproat called for a reform of the Nuclear Waste Fund, which has a balance of about $21 billion generated over the years by fees on electricity rate payers. Of the $750 million that goes into the fund annually, most goes into the Treasury for other purposes. He said the fund should be dedicated strictly for nuclear waste, which is what Congress originally intended.

Sprout said substantial progress has been made in restructuring Yucca Mountain program management, and major milestones have been met. These include submission last month of the license application for design and construction to the NRC. The commission has 90 days to review the application to determine whether it meets regulatory requirements.

If it passes muster, the NRC has up to four years for its formal license review for safety, design and construction.

"Nevada families are overwhelmingly opposed to our home state becoming this nation's nuclear garbage dump," said Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., a witness before the House Energy and Commerce Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee. "Over the past 25 years, we have been fighting Yucca Mountain, Republicans and Democrats alike, for one simple reason: It's not safe."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.