Lead Lab for Yucca Mountain Project

In 2006, following years of study at the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP), Sandia was selected by the Department of Energy Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM) as the Lead Laboratory for Repository Systems (or Lead Lab) for the management and integration of all Yucca Mountain scientific programs. Sandia was selected to integrate the work from multiple national laboratories, universities and private sector firms that constituted the technical basis for the postclosure safety analysis report in the YM License Application; increase its technical credibility with the scientific community, as well as with the regulators and stakeholders; and to develop and defend the aforementioned SAR during the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) licensing process.

Lead Laboratory Role and Objectives

As the Lead Laboratory, Sandia was responsible for:

  • Defining effective licensing strategies,
  • Defense of the current technical basis supporting the post-closure safety analysis in the license application,
  • Developing a credible technical basis for future licensing needs, and
  • Creating an effective long-term science and monitoring program.

The overarching objective of the Lead Laboratory was to provide the OCRWM a post-closure safety analysis and a licensing technical basis that was:

  • Credible with the technical peer community,
  • Defensible with the regulatory community, and
  • Respected as impartial and objective by all constituencies.

All activities of the Lead Laboratory were conducted in accordance with the fundamental principles of a nuclear safety culture, consistent with the expectations of OCRWM, DOE, and NRC. These skills still reside at Sandia and are being passed down through our robust Knowledge Management Program.

Sandia’s Contributions

As the Lead Laboratory, Sandia provided:

  • Strong central leadership for the repository science program while maintaining access to the best-in-class expertise from national laboratories, contractors and consultants, and universities;
  • Cost-effective management of post closure science by focusing work on those activities that are most important to performance;
  • Technical credibility with the regulator, scientific community, and stakeholders; and
  • Assurance that scientific work is conducted in accordance with all applicable NRC requirements, including quality assurance requirements.

Sandia provided management and integration of:

  • The scientific programs including defining work activities and priorities related to repository science needs and creating a responsive performance confirmation program;
  • The postclosure sections of the License Application;
  • The information, analyses, documents, expert witnesses, and other scientific and technical support needed for the adequate and successful defense of the License Application during the NRC’s licensing process and any related litigation;
  • The allocation of funding and the assignment of technical tasks to selected supporting organizations (e.g., other national laboratories, subcontractors, Federal agencies, universities, expert panels); and
  • Assuring technical integrity and sufficiency and product quality of the deliverables and other work supporting the licensing technical basis, and representing the technical basis to regulatory, stakeholder, and other constituencies.

In performing these roles and responsibilities, Sandia worked closely with the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management to ensure achievement of programmatic technical objectives and with the Office of the General Counsel and its licensing support contractor to ensure a sound scientific and technical basis for the defense of the License Application and any related litigation.

Tito Bonano

(505) 844-9720