Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Director,?Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project,?on the Senate?s Approval of Nuclear Waste Bill

Feb. 10, 2000

Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Director,?Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project,?on the Senate?s Approval
of Nuclear Waste Bill

Critical 34 Votes Held to Sustain Promised Veto

It is unfortunate that the Senate this morning approved the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2000 (S1287). However, although lawmakers passed this irresponsible bill, a critical 34 “nay” votes were registered, which will help uphold President Clinton?s promised veto of the bill.

This vote was yet another example of the nuclear industry buying legislation to do its dirty work. Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Ala.), the bill?s sponsor, attempted to bail out the nuclear industry once again by speeding up the schedule for moving highly irradiated nuclear waste from reactor sites around the country. The nuclear industry supported this bill because it does not want to take responsibility for the mess it has made and continues to make each day.

The bill would allow for temporary storage of nuclear waste as early as 2006, as soon as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) receives a license to construct a repository. This means that the largest nuclear waste shipping campaign in the history of the world would be launched ? with waste travelling through 43 states for 25 years, past the homes and workplaces of 50 million Americans. In addition, the bill stipulates that the DOE begin placing waste in the repository no later than 18 months after a construction permit is granted.

Yucca Mountain, located near Las Vegas, Nev., is the only site being considered by the DOE as a “permanent disposal” site for the United States? highly radioactive nuclear waste. This spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste is currently located at 77 sites across the country and would have to be transported by truck or rail to Yucca Mountain if that site is approved as a geologic repository. It is unfortunate that lawmakers have ignored the consequences of trucking this waste around the country and the potential for the release of radiation in the event of a crash. We are encouraged by the number of lawmakers who voted against the bill, however, and hold out hope that a veto will be sustained.