Auburn's Barnett appointed NRC judge for Yucca Mountain Repository

Published: Sep 21, 2009 10:29:00 AM
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Mark Barnett

Mark Barnett

Mark Barnett, professor in Auburn University's Department of Civil Engineering, was recently appointed by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to serve as one of nine administrative judges for the hearings on the proposed U. S. nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. Barnett has served on the panel since 2007 and was chosen for the case based on his expertise in radioactive waste.

The Department of Energy has targeted Yucca Mountain as a site to store nuclear waste currently housed at nuclear power plants. The NRC is responsible for hearing the public and ruling on the issue, as many residents have concerns about turning the area into a repository. This hearing is the first of several in a multiyear licensing process that the NRC will conduct before making a decision on the issue.

The NRC's administrative judge panel is comprised of lawyers and technical experts serving as both full-time and part-time judges. Typically, the technical experts are university professors like Barnett. The NRC chooses a certain number of judges for each case depending on their field of expertise.

Barnett joined Auburn's civil engineering faculty in 1999. He holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and a master's degree in environmental engineering from the University of Tennessee, as well as a doctoral degree in environmental sciences and engineering from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His research interests include the development, analysis and implementation of sustainable energy, resources and environmental policies. He is also interested in water quality engineering and environmental remediation.

Contributed by Cassity Hughes