As reported by Devin Henry in The Hill, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has not included funding in the Energy and Water Development section of the Senate Appropriations bill to revive the cancelled Yucca Mountain, Nevada radioactive waste dump. However, Alexander -- a long time Yucca dump supporter -- has made clear that the Senate floor debate of the Appropriations bill would be a good place to add Yucca dump funding by amendment.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate, can be expected to fight any such amendment with everything he's got. After all, he's been successfully leading the fight against the Yucca dump since the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987, when he was a rookie Senator.
President Obama has also opposed the Yucca dump as "unworkable" -- de-funding the project, and even moving to withdraw the U.S. Department of Energy's application to construct and operate the high-level radioactive waste dump in Nevada.
The U.S. House has included funding for Yucca's U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing proceeding. A conference committee between House and Senate appropriators would be another juncture for Yucca dump opponents to remain vigilant against funding being added to the bill.
Alexander's Senate Appropriations Bill language also includes funding for centralized, or consolidated, storage of commercial irradiated fuel -- something opponents have dubbed de facto permanent parking lot dumps. Nuclear boosters near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in NM, as well as at Waste Control Specialists in Texas, have expressed interest in becoming consolidated interim storage sites -- for a price. Alexander's provision, supported by ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, would launch unprecedented numbers of risky high-level radioactive waste trucks, trains, and barges onto the roads, rails, and waterways.
On May 21st, the full U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development's Fiscal Year 2016 funding bill.
As stated in the full committee's press release, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the subcommittee chairman, named a top priority for his bill: "removing major obstacles to the use of nuclear power." He means, transferring liability for high-level radioactive waste from the companies that profited from its generation, onto the backs of the American taxpayer.
As stated in the press release:
Solving the Nuclear Waste Stalemate – The bill includes a pilot program for consolidated nuclear waste storage, introduced by Alexander and ranking member U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). It also includes language that allows DOE to store nuclear waste at private facilities, such as those proposed in Texas and New Mexico.
The "pilot program" would centralize, supposedly on an "interim" basis, irradiated nuclear fuel from a dozen permanently closed atomic reactors, at places such as Waste Control Specialists (WCS) in Andrews County, Texas or near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Eddy/Lea Counties, New Mexico.
This, despite the fact that WCS is located immediately adjacent to, or even above, the Ogallala Aquifer, critical to a dozen Great Plains States for drinking and irrigation water. So-called "low" level radioactive wastes from across the U.S. are already dumped there.
And despite the fact that WIPP has yet to "recover" from a military complex plutonium-contaminated radioactive waste barrel rupture in Feb. 2014. The "clean up" bill for that lone incident will be $500 million, DOE has stated (the L.A. Times puts the figure at closer to a billion dollars!).