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Nevada Senator Slashes Nuclear Waste Dump Budget for 2007

Published by MAC on 2006-06-29

Nevada Senator Slashes Nuclear Waste Dump Budget for 2007


29th June 2006

U.S. Senator Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat who serves as Senate minority leader, has again sliced the budget for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository to a level far below what proponents had hoped for.

Reid is the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, which today approved a bill that would provide $494 million for the Yucca Mountain project in fiscal year 2007 - slightly less than this year's $500 million budget.

President George W. Bush and Congress have both approved the Yucca Mountain site, but Nevada legislators at all levels of government oppose the facility which is supposed to accept 77,000 tons of the nation's high level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and defense sites.

President Bush had asked for $50 million more for Yucca Mtn. than the amount in the Senate bill, and the Department of Energy estimates it would need twice as much to keep the project on schedule.

"The Yucca Mountain nuke dump has been riddled with scientific, health, and safety problems from the beginning," said Reid. "I don't believe the dump will ever open. I think anything spent on Yucca is a waste of money, so I'm pleased we were able to keep the funding levels low, although it's a shame we're throwing any good taxpayer money after bad."

Ten million of the $494 million budget for next year would be used for a different project - a plan to create interim storage sites outside of Nevada.

The measure contains language instructing the Department of Energy to work with states that have nuclear reactors to identify the need for, and location of, interim storage sites within those states or regions. Nuclear waste could be stored at those sites for 25 years.

The bill upholds the conditions of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which specifies that no interim storage can be placed in Nevada.

"My goal is on-site, dry cask storage of nuclear waste," said Reid. "While this bill does not fully accomplish that personal goal of mine, it is a significant step in the right direction."

"This measure will give us time to study the problem of nuclear waste and work towards a solution that is safe and viable, Reid said. "It's a good bipartisan compromise."

The FY '07 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill also requires a General Accounting Office audit of the Yucca Mountain budget money. The audit would ensure that all appropriated money is spent in accordance with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. The full Committee is expected to approve the Senate bill Thursday. Reid has kept the project's budget at the same level for three years now, without even increases to offset inflation.

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