WASHINGTON—U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY) last night introduced legislation that would help protect the nation's environment by establishing an integrated nuclear waste management system featuring centralized interim storage and permanent disposal of used fuel from commercial nuclear energy plants. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1999 (H.R. 45) is similar to H.R. 1270, a measure that the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved in the 105th Congress by a margin of 307-120. Joe F. Colvin, president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, issued the following statement:
"The nation's need for nuclear energy and the federal government's obligation to safely isolate used nuclear fuel from commercial and defense facilities make it imperative that Congress and the White House act on a bipartisan basis to meet one of our top environmental challenges. Congressmen Upton, Towns and the other original cosponsors of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act are to be commended for asserting leadership on this urgent national issue.
"Except for some technical changes related to the budget process, this bill is the same as the measure that earned overwhelming bipartisan support in the House of Representatives in the 105th Congress. It merits the same broad support, and prompt action, in the new Congress. The Department of Energy has released the viability assessment of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the site being studied for a permanent repository for used nuclear fuel. This report increases confidence that our nation's brightest technical minds can engineer a repository that safely isolates used fuel.
"The government's failure to meet its 1998 deadline to begin disposing of used nuclear fuel means that the meter is running on potentially tens of billions of dollars in damages from litigation already under way. Electricity consumers who already have financed the government's $15 billion nuclear waste fund for a disposal program they haven't gotten, deserve a solution to this issue now.
"By introducing this legislation, the sponsors of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act have exhibited their belief that the federal government must stand by its longstanding commitment and statutory obligation to manage used nuclear fuel. The nuclear energy industry applauds the sponsors and urges other members of Congress to join them in seeking swift enactment of this important environmental protection bill."
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.