GNEP funding blow

15 June 2007

US president George Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) has been dealt a financial blow by the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.

GNEP has been allocated $120 million for the 2008 fiscal year, some $285 million below the president’s request and $47.5 million below the 2007 sum for the initiative to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and burn long-lived radioactive materials.

The allocation is not set in stone as it has still to be passed by the US Senate.

The committee stated: “It is unnecessary to rush into a plan that continues to raise concerns among scientists and has only weak support from industry, given that there are reasonable options available for short term storage of nuclear waste and that this project will cost tens of billions of dollars and last for decades.”

In contrast, the non-GNEP nuclear energy allocation was $639.2 million, some $232.5 million above the president’s request, which is $324.5 million above 2007 funding. The sum will go towards the NGNP plant at the Idaho National Lab which is to use safer, more efficient technology.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear fuel bank has been allocated $100 million to create a reliable source of nuclear fuel for countries whose traditional sources has been interrupted. This aims to eliminate the need for countries to develop their own nuclear fuel uranium enrichment programs.

Yucca Mountain was allocated $494.5 million, some $48.8 million above 2007, matching the request for nuclear waste disposal.

The Energy and Water Appropriations Committee also allocated environmental cleanup $6.671 billion, some $358.8 million above the president’s request ($30.9 million below the 2007 figure) to clean up contamination from 60 years of manufacturing nuclear weapons and various cancelled projects for handling spent nuclear fuel.

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has outstanding commitments to clean up 23 sites in 14 states. These funds would allow DoE to finish work at a number of the smaller sites while continuing work at many of the larger ones.

Nuclear non-proliferation was allocated $1.684 billion, $11 million above the president’s request ($.3 million above 2007) bringing total available funding for non-proliferation to $2.07 billion, due to $387 million available from prior years.

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