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Connecticut lawmakers anxious about accumulating nuclear radioactive trash

Connecticut lawmakers: ‘Status quo unacceptable’ on nuclear waste policy, The Day January 06. 2018  By Benjamin Kail   Day staff writer b.kail@theday.com   BenKail  Waterford — All the nuclear fuel spent creating electricity at the Millstone Power Station since the 1970s remains on site — either in cooling pools that reduce radioactivity, or entombed in 31 massive, leak-tight concrete and steel canisters.

But that fuel is supposed to be about 2,700 miles west of Waterford, according to federal law.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 tasked the Department of Energy with siting, building and maintaining an underground repository for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. In 1987, lawmakers designated Yucca Mountain, a dry, remote spot in Nevada, as the permanent home for the country’s nuclear waste.

The law set in motion an ongoing procedural, political and legal battle over where to bury tens of thousands of tons of radioactive waste from 100-plus sites across more than three dozen states.

Millstone spokesman Ken Holt said Thursday that plant owner Dominion Energy maintains the federal government is obligated “to take possession of the used fuel at all nuclear power plants, including Millstone.”

Keeping nuclear waste on site in spent fuel pools or the dry cask storage “stores the fuel safely until the government is ready to accept it,” Holt said……..

nuclear advocates and Connecticut lawmakers say it’s vital to create long-term storage solutions in the interests of national security and cost savings. And there’s a renewed push, in the Trump administration and Congress, to make that happen.

By missing its 1998 deadline to accept nuclear waste at the permanent repository site promised 30 years ago, the federal government has had to fork out more than $6 billion in settlements and judgments to energy companies for incurred storage costs.

That funding comes from the U.S. Treasury Department Judgment Fund, a permanent account to cover damage claims against the government that doesn’t hit taxpayers directly through the budget process but still racks up the deficit, according to the NRC and lawmakers.

“There’s got to be a safer, much more cost-effective way than having this stuff pile up and require expensive surveillance in well over 100 locations across the country,” Rep Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said Friday. “There’s a strong feeling that the status quo is unacceptable. It’s not fair to the sites around the country to have to be a host community for the material. It’s time to get this national disposal system underway.”……

President Donald Trump’s initial 2018 budget hopes to breathe new life into the Yucca Mountain plan this spring, calling for investments of $110 million into the project, along with $30 million for its NRC licensing process and $10 million for interim waste storage.

Lawmakers backed those appropriations in the U.S. House in recent months, but the funding has stalled in the U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., introduced the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act last year, picking up more than 100 co-sponsors, including Courtney.

The bill would eliminate permitting hurdles that have held up Yucca Mountain; ensure funding for the repository program isn’t subject to the annual appropriations process; and allow the DOE to contract with private companies looking to establish NRC-licensed interim storage sites while Yucca Mountain is debated.

The measure cleared the House Energy and Commerce Committee this past summer in a bipartisan 49-4 vote……..

The NRC remains in the early stages of reviewing an application from New Jersey-based Holtec International to construct and operate an interim storage repository in New Mexico.

A Texas company, Waste Control Specialists, has proposed an interim storage site in west Texas. But the company asked the NRC to put its application review on hold, citing licensing costs “significantly higher than we originally estimated.”……… http://www.theday.com/article/20180106/NWS01/180109574

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January 8, 2018 - Posted by | USA, wastes

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