WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released a fiscal year 2005 budget request that seeks a record-high $907.5 million for the agency’s nuclear waste management program. Of the $907.5 million, $27.5 million is environmental management funding for the Idaho National Engineering & Environmental Lab, with $880 million targeted for the Yucca Mountain, Nev., repository project.
DOE also announced its intent to pursue enactment of legislation that would modify the appropriations process in a way that would ensure that federal Nuclear Waste Fund monies “are directly applied for their intended purposes without delay.” The legislation would reform an appropriations process that over the past nine years has seen more than $4 billion diverted from the fund – a dedicated trust fund financed by users of nuclear-generated electricity – for other general budget purposes.
The nuclear energy industry expressed support for both the budget request and the proposed appropriations remedy.
“The Administration is taking important steps to help the government meet its statutory and contractual obligation to begin disposing of the used nuclear fuel being stored at commercial nuclear power plants,” said John Kane, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s senior vice president of governmental affairs.
“The government’s nuclear waste management program is an environmental priority, and it is imperative that Congress provide the funding necessary in the years ahead for the Department of Energy to meet critical program milestones for the planned underground repository at Yucca Mountain,” Kane said.
DOE plans to submit a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the state-of-the-art disposal facility in December of this year. DOE’s goal is to have the repository, which also would receive high-level radioactive waste from U.S. defense programs, in operation by 2010.
The FY05 budget request of $907.5 million is a $303 million increase over nuclear waste disposal funding in the current fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
DOE says the increased funding will enable the agency to submit the license application this December, to finalize the preliminary design of the underground and surface facilities at the Yucca Mountain repository, to meet infrastructure needs, and to begin ordering transportation containers and auxiliary equipment that would be used to ship used nuclear fuel to the site.
“The nuclear waste management program has been consistently underfunded for many years. It is essential – now that Congress and the White House have approved Yucca Mountain as the site for used fuel disposal – that sufficient funding be available to permit DOE to meet its schedule,” Kane said.
DOE’s legislative proposal would reclassify ratepayer fees received from electric utilities for the Nuclear Waste Fund “to allow them to offset the request for repository construction.”
Funding for the nuclear waste disposal program is part of a $24.3 billion budget request unveiled today by DOE. The request includes $410 million for the department’s nuclear energy program, a $5 million increase from the current year. This program includes $31 million for DOE’s Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems initiative, which is aimed at developing “the next generation of advanced energy systems that are more proliferation resistant and have reduced life cycle costs.”
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.