February 12, 2011 / 2:58 AM / 9 years ago

US must move past Yucca dump for nuke waste-Chu

* Chu says Yucca dump caused acrimony, dispute

* Utilities, lawmakers have called for Yucca to go forward

By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Friday reiterated the Obama administration’s case against moving forward with a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

In a letter to the administration’s blue ribbon commission on nuclear waste, Chu said the Yucca project failed to get backing from surrounding communities and “produced years of continued acrimony, dispute, and uncertainty.”

“It is time for the commission, the Congress, and the American people to move toward a better, more widely-supported solution,” Chu said.

Chu set up the blue ribbon panel after deciding to scrap the long delayed Yucca project. The panel of former congressmen, academics, and business leaders is charged with coming up with a plan for disposing the nation’s nuclear waste.

The panel must release a draft report by July and issue a final report by early next year.

The decision to scrap the Yucca dump site has raised the ire of some utilities and lawmakers, who say the United States has already spent years developing the project and the nation is legally obligated to take ownership of radioactive waste from the country’s nuclear plants.

Chu stressed the administration’s support for nuclear power. The department approved a loan guarantee last year for the construction of the first new U.S. nuclear plant in three decades.

He also said with existing loan guarantees and additional funding requested by the administration, an additional six to nine plants could be built.

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