The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told a congressional panel that the Commission is still unsure if it will appeal the court ruling to restart the Yucca Mountain project.


Chairman Allison Macfarlane testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday. Her testimony included discussions on how to dispose of the nation's nuclear waste, as well as how to spend the $11.1 million granted to the Commission for project review.


Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the National Regulatory Commission is required to make a decision on whether Yucca Mountain is an appropriate resting place for the nation's spent fuel.


The U.S. Court of Appeals is enforcing that rule and is requiring the Commission to make that decision before the end of the month. By a two-to-one vote, the court handed down its decision last month. According to the opinion, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “has continued to violate the law governing the Yucca Mountain licensing process,” which led to a petition for a writ of mandamus.


“At this point, the Commission is simply defying a law enacted by Congress, and the Commission is doing so without any legal basis,” the court stated in an order last month.


Macfarlane has responded by stating that the Commission is working hard to make a decision.


Federal funding for Yucca was originally cut in 2009. After the cut, talk began that the Savannah River Site could become a potential interim facility for nuclear waste. However, last month's ruling ordered that the Commission spend the $11.1 million to begin reviewing Yucca as a spent fuel facility.


SRS still currently houses weapons waste from the Cold War era that was slated for burial in Yucca Mountain for more than three decades.


Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.