Waste bill to clear House

31 March 1999

A bill to allow the construction of a temporary site in Nevada for storage of spent nuclear fuel may pass the US House of Representatives by mid-April, according to Rep Joe Barton (Republican-Texas), chairman of the House Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee.

Barton made the prediction as he categorically rejected a Department of Energy proposal to take ownership of spent fuel now stored at 72 nuclear facility sites in the United States. DOE would pay utilities to leave it on their property while a proposed site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, is studied as the location of a permanent repository.

Virginia Power, which was one of many US electric companies opposed to the idea, called it a ‘political quick fix’ that would create high-level waste sites in 33 states.

The White House remains opposed to the temporary waste site, arguing that it would divert resources away from Yucca Mountain. Clinton is likely to veto the bill, should it be approved by Congress.

A number of US electric utilities have sued the Energy Department to recover damages they have incurred because of the federal government’s failure to honour its contractual promise to resolve the nuclear waste problem.

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