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Bush Reappoints U Scientist

Sept. 29, 2008 – President George W. Bush is reappointing University of Utah geochemist Thure Cerling to a federal panel responsible for reviewing plans to store high-level radioactive waste in a long delayed repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

Cerling – a distinguished professor of geology and geophysics, and of biology – first was named to a four-year term on the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board in 2002.

His second term technically began in 2006 and extends to April 19, 2010, but the White House “didn’t get around to the second appointment until now,” says Cerling, who was notified of his reappointment Sept. 25.

The underground nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, north of Las Vegas, originally was to open in 1998 to store highly radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants and military facilities. That date was delayed to 2010 and then to 2018 due to government delays, ballooning costs and legal challenges to the waste dump.

The board’s Web site¬†( says: “Congress created the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board … in the 1987 amendments to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to review the technical and scientific validity of Department of Energy (DOE) activities related to disposing of the nation’s commercial spent nuclear fuel and defense high-level radioactive waste. These activities include evaluating the Yucca Mountain site, as well as packaging and transporting the waste. The Board is an independent federal agency.”

Bush also announced his intention to appoint three other members to the board: Mark D. Abkowitz, of Tennessee; David J. Duquette, of New York; and Ronald Michael Latanision, of Massachusetts.