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Wyoming lawmakers quietly see $billions in storing spent nuclear fuel. 

Lawmakers quietly explore storing spent nuclear fuel.  Wyo File,  July 12, 2019 by Angus M. Thuermer Jr.     Wyoming legislative leadership voted by email Monday to explore temporarily storing spent nuclear fuel rods in the state, a prospect one senator says could bring in $1 billion a year.

A legislative committee has appointed six of its members to investigate the idea with the U.S. Department of Energy, Sen. Jim Anderson (R-Casper) told WyoFile on Friday. Anderson is co-chairman of the Joint Minerals Business and Economic Development Committee which received approval and funding from the Legislative Management Council in an unannounced vote to study the issue before the next legislative session begins in early 2020. ………

The state is looking for other revenue options, Anderson said, and “this is a way.” The federal government could pay up to $1 billion a year for the temporary storage, he said, depending on the size and scope of a Wyoming project. That’s the amount the federal government offered last time Wyoming considered the issue about 15 years ago, he said.

Anderson couldn’t immediately name the six members who serve on the subcommittee that will engage DOE, but he said it’s unlikely the group would report at the next minerals committee meeting in August. More likely there would be a presentation in November, he said……….

The spent fuel rod casks would be temporarily stored in Wyoming on their way to a permanent storage site at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.  ….

The Wyoming effort is specific regarding fuel rods only, he said. “There’s nothing here about storing nuclear waste,” Anderson said. Storage might be for 5-10 years, he said……..

The old uranium sites are out of the way, Anderson said.

“Nobody will ever see it,” he said of a storage site. “Nobody even knows where it is,” he said of the locations at Gas Hills and the Shirley Basin. “They’ll never see it and there’s no danger from the casks.”

Wyoming might have to build some infrastructure, he said, like a fence around the casks. The state could offer both the old mine sites, he said, potentially increasing revenue.

“Environmental terrorists” sure to object

Wyoming’s previous attempts to bring some types of nuclear storage to the state were blocked by environmental groups, Anderson said.

During an earlier effort to bring nuclear material to Wyoming “the environmental terrorists came out against it and stopped it in its tracks,” he said. That opposition likely remains.

“I think they’ll be back terrorizing us again,” Anderson said.

Wyoming people will likely welcome such a project, Anderson said, given the potential $1 billion or more annual revenue stream. …….

On the Management Council, Sens. Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower), Dan Dockstader (R-Afton), Drew Perkins (R-Casper) and Bill Landen (R-Casper) plus Reps. Greear, Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale), and Speaker of the House Steve Harshman (R-Casper) supported the minerals committee request, Obrecht wrote.

Sens. Mike Gierau (D-Jackson), Liisa Anselmi-Dalton (D-Rock Springs, Chris Rothfuss (D-Laramie) opposed the measure along with Reps. Eric Barlow (R-Gillette), John Freeman (D-Green River) and Kathy Connolly (D-Laramie), according to Obrecht’s email.

The Management Council vote was taken by email, Obrecht said. The motion includes funds to support the investigation, but WyoFile could not immediately ascertain how much.

Gierau outlined his opposition to the measure.   “I like a billion dollars as much as the next guy, but some things are not for sale,” he told WyoFile. He pointed to efforts through the state’s  Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming and other programs to diversify the state’s economy.

“Of all the things we want to do… I just don’t see this as a winning proposition, on an environmental, social or personal level,” he said.

He noted the close vote on the Management Council and said he would continue his opposition.

“I will do my best to make sure it’s not as close on the floor,” he said.  https://www.wyofile.com/lawmakers-quietly-explore-storing-spent-nuclear-fuel/

July 15, 2019 - Posted by | politics, USA, wastes

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