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Report to the U.S. Congress and the Secretary of Energy: Moving Beyond the Viability Assessment (April 1999)

In this report, the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (Board) offers its views on the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) December 1998 Viability Assessment of the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. The Yucca Mountain site is being characterized to determine its suitability as the location of a permanent repository for disposing of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The Board discusses the need to address key uncertainties that remain about the site, including the performance of the engineered and natural barriers. The Board addresses the DOE’s plans for reducing those uncertainties and suggests that consideration be given to alternative repository designs, including ventilated low-temperature designs that have the potential to reduce uncertainties and simplify the analytical bases for determining site suitably and for licensing. The Board also comments on the DOE’s total system performance assessment, the analytical tool that pulls together information on the performance of the repository system.