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Nuclear waste storage bill passes in U.S. House

Congressmen urged the U.S. Senate to take action Thursday regarding storage of the country’s nuclear waste following the passage of the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act in the House of Representatives.

City of Red Wing officials this week voiced support for the bill, calling it a promising development toward the removal of radioactive waste being temporarily stored at Prairie Island nuclear plant.

The House bill, H.R. 3053, assists in resolving the long-pending licensing for a permanent storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, while also directing the U.S. Department of Energy to move forward with interim storage solutions, including the possibility of agreements with private parties.

The bill passed in the House by a vote of 340-72.

In a joint statement Thursday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Oregon, and Environment Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus, R-Illinois, said the federal government is overdue in its 35-year-old commitment to dispose spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste from defense-related activities.

According to the statement:

“The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act is a commonsense step in that direction, and we commend today’s bipartisan vote in the House. We urge the Senate to quickly take up and pass this legislation to address this national priority. We are committed to helping the 121 communities in 39 states with nuclear waste sitting around get the permanent storage facility up and running.”

The original Nuclear Waste Policy Act passed by Congress in 1982 gave the Department of Energy the responsibility of disposing the country's spent nuclear fuel. A funding model was established by which ratepayers who benefited from nuclear energy have paid the federal government to finance a disposal program. More than $40 billion has been paid to the energy department to date by ratepayers.

There were 1,441 metric tons of uranium stored in Minnesota at the end of 2017, according statistics compiled by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the policy organization of the nuclear technology industry.

For more information about the legislation, visit https://energycommerce.house.gov/nwpaa.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

(651) 301-7875
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