Senators Introduce Bipartisan, Comprehensive Nuclear Waste Legislation

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Four senior U.S. senators on Thursday, introduced a bipartisan, comprehensive plan for safeguarding and permanently disposing of tens of thousands of tons of dangerous radioactive nuclear waste currently accumulating at sites dispersed across the country.

Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Ca., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tn. – the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development – and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Or., and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, R-Al., collaborated on the proposal, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013 (S. 1240).

“Stalemate can’t solve our nation’s nuclear waste issues. This bill takes immediate steps to more safely store the most dangerous radioactive waste, and lays out a clear plan for a permanent solution,” Senator Wyden said. “Senators Murkowski, Feinstein and Alexander deserve enormous credit for the work and creativity that made this bipartisan bill possible.”

“I’m pleased to have worked with Sens. Wyden, Feinstein, and Alexander to include language that gets us back on a path to addressing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle,” Senator Murkowski said. “By moving forward on interim storage and a permanent repository through parallel tracks, the federal government can send a strong signal to utilities, rate payers, and the American public that we will meet our obligations on used nuclear fuel.”

“This bipartisan bill—years in the making—will finally begin to address the dangerous, expensive absence of a comprehensive nuclear waste policy,” Senator Feinstein said. “In addition to creating an independent Nuclear Waste Administration to manage nuclear waste, the bill authorizes the construction of interim storage facilities and permanent waste repositories, sited through a consent-based process and funded by fees currently collected from nuclear power ratepayers. The inability of the federal government to collect waste stored across the country at functioning power plants, decommissioned reactors and federal facilities is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. It’s time to finally put a policy in place to address this problem.”

“After 25 years of stalemate, this legislation puts us back on the road to finding safe places to dispose of used nuclear fuel,” Senator Alexander said. “It does this in the obvious way: by making local, state and federal governments equal partners in the process of finding temporary and permanent storage for nuclear waste. This is important because nuclear power provides 60 percent of our reliable, air-pollution-free electricity.”

Currently there is no central repository for spent nuclear fuel, leaving fuel rods to be stored on-site at dozens of commercial nuclear facilities around the country, including areas that are at risk of earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters. Millions of gallons of high-level radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear weapons programs are also being stored at Department of Energy sites around the country. The 2011 Fukushima disaster, combined with recent announcements of new radioactive waste leaks at the Hanford Site in Washington State add to the urgency of securing spent fuel and finding permanent repository for the nation’s nuclear waste.

The bill updates an April draft, after the Energy committee received more than 2,500 public comments on the measure. It includes establishment of a new nuclear waste administration and creates a consent-based process for siting nuclear waste facilities. It also enables the federal government to address its commitment to managing commercial nuclear waste, limiting the costly liability the government bears for its failure to dispose of commercial spent fuel. The integrated storage and repository system established by this legislation will expand opportunities for nuclear power to supply low-carbon energy, and will provide long-term protection of public health and safety for both commercial and defense high-level waste. 

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee is planning a hearing on the bill in July. The date and witnesses will be announced when they are confirmed.


3rd Edition Of Popular Stokes Photo Book To Be Issued

With a second edition of the popular Stokes Photo Book selling out, Chattanoogan.com will publish a third edition of 1,000 copies. John Wilson, publisher, said, "We continue to get calls and emails inquiring about the availability of this remarkable Chattanooga photo collection. So we have asked College Printing at Collegedale to put the almost 600-page book back on the presses. ... (click for more)

Clay Facing Charges After Break-In, Though Victims Reluctant To Prosecute

Christopher Clay, 29, is facing charges of aggravated burglary, theft under $500 and vandalism, though the victims are reluctant to prosecute. In the incident on Tuesday, police went to an address on Hunt Drive on a possible burglary in progress. Lisa Cantrell said Clay, her former boyfriend, had come into her home uninvited by using the key she gave him while they were dating. ... (click for more)

Obama Doesn't Want You To Save For College

Over the past few decades, federal aid for post-secondary education has decreased and transitioned largely from grants to guaranteed student loans.   At the same time, the cost of college has far exceeded the cost of inflation creating a situation in which college has become less affordable and causing students to pile up debt that is at an all-time high.   This debt ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Today we are going to play a “special request” for the Saturday funnies. Most people think the funnies come on Sunday but this is for everybody who ever spent the night with a classmate and then sat in front of a black-and-white TV 50 years ago for the cartoons. Believe it or not, it was the only time TV interested us back in the day. Please note – I didn’t write these jokes. This ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Earns State Duals Berth With 45-33 Win

The Notre Dame wrestling team is peaking at the right time. It's been an up and down season for the Fighting Irish and for the first time all year, they have a full lineup. And now they can start making plans for next weekend's State Duals in Franklin after beating East Ridge for the second time in three days. The Irish beat East Ridge by eight points on Thursday night ... (click for more)

McCurdy's Clutch 3 Helps Bears Beat Blue Raiders, 65-62

(Story will be updated) CLEVELAND, Tenn. – First place in District 5-AAA was up for grabs Saturday when bitter rivals Cleveland and Bradley Central squared off at Jim Smiddy Arena. The Bearettes seized it. The Bears claimed it, too. Bradley Central, scoring eight points in the final 35.9 seconds, including Bradley McCurdy clutch 3-pointer, rallied past the Blue ... (click for more)