Senate appropriations subcommittee approves nuclear spend

28 June 2006

The Senate appropriations energy and water subcommittee has approved a $30.7 billion spending bill for the Energy Department, $1.25 billion over the budget request, with new funding for the advancement of energy initiatives authorised by the National Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Of the total $24.7 billion is approved for the Department of Energy (DoE), a $650 million increase, $9.25 billion is for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of which $2.3 billion is to fund the President’s Advanced Energy Initiative including solar, biomass and nuclear energy, a roughly $380 million increase for energy supply and conservation activities.

Nuclear energy receives $711 million, up $151.5 million, including $27 million to restore funding for the university R&D programme; $88 million, a $34 million increase, for Nuclear Power 2010 to accelerate the new plan design licensing programme with the NRC. In addition, the Next Generation Nuclear Plant is to receive $40.0 million, and an additional $17 million to support R&D at Idaho National Lab for the high temperature gas reactor.

Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) is allocated $250 million, plus $36 million for facilities upgrades under the bill.

The bill addresses the accumulation of commercial spent nuclear fuel at existing US reactor sites by establishing a “medium term” solution. This plan, part of the $494 million funding for nuclear waste disposal and Yucca Mountain, authorises the Energy Secretary to create a director of consolidation with the goal of finding a temporary, consolidated storage for spent fuel within a state or regional site within 270 days of enactment. The DoE would take title for the spent fuel and move it to another non-reactor site owned by the federal government, or purchased from a willing seller, authorised to accept spent nuclear fuel at a federally-owned facility for up to 25 years before it can be either recycled or stored at Yucca Mountain when it is licensed.

The bill also directs funding toward accelerating construction of a MOX facility in South Carolina.

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