WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today unveiled legislation to reform the federal government’s nuclear waste management program. Joining him in releasing the legislation were Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Following is a statement from the Nuclear Energy Institute’s senior vice president for governmental affairs, Alex Flint, about the legislative proposal.
“This legislation is a good first step toward implementation of a sustainable, integrated program to safely and efficiently manage commercial used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from U.S. defense programs. Its most important elements recognize that the Department of Energy has been unable, and will likely remain unable, to implement a comprehensive used fuel program. To address that deficiency, regardless of what program is implemented, the United States must establish a new management entity with the authority necessary to be successful, including appropriate access to funds. This proposal is a major step in that direction.
“The legislation’s core elements track closely with the nuclear energy industry’s principles of how a comprehensive, successful waste management program should be structured. They also track with recommendations made last year by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.
“Many of these concepts have long been supported by our members and other experts. It speaks well of the four senators that they have been able to have such productive discussions on a bipartisan basis over a period of many months to shape this important legislative proposal.
“The industry welcomes the senators’ approach today of releasing a proposal and soliciting comments. We certainly will make recommendations as requested by May 24th and look forward to working with the senators as this legislation advances.
“We strongly support the fact that the legislation authorizes the new management entity to pursue geologic disposal and does not preclude Yucca Mountain serving that purpose. The industry continues to recognize that current law designates Yucca Mountain as the nation’s geologic repository and believes the licensing process for that facility should be completed.
“Responsible stewardship of used nuclear fuel from the production of electricity with nuclear energy is a priority for our industry and should be for the federal government. This legislation is a welcome start to achieve that goal.”