Lawmakers introduce resolutions urging safe, permanent nuclear spent fuel storage

LANSING—Three Michigan senators introduced resolutions on Thursday calling on the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to complete facilities for safely spent nuclear fuel.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 8, sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn, calls on Congress to appropriate from the Nuclear Waste Fund the money necessary to establish a permanent repository.

Each year, the fund’s balance increases by about $750 million in direct taxpayer payments.

“Over the last 30 years, the nuclear power industry and its customers have paid the federal government billions of dollars to construct a permanent repository for nuclear waste, and yet the federal government has failed to meet its own obligation,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “The Nuclear Waste Fund contains more than enough money to pay for this site, and we urge its completion.”

In 2002, Congress and President Bush approved Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the site of a safe nuclear waste repository for the U.S.

“We are urging the federal government to live up to its responsibility to establish a permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Michigan taxpayers have been assessed $812 million since 1983 for the construction of a permanent site. It is 2015, and a permanent site has still not been built. There is only so long the nation can continue to safely store waste at temporary sites at the cost of hardworking Michigan and U.S. taxpayers.”

Proos’ resolution, SCR 6, compels Congress to return the money collected from Michigan residents if a permanent repository is not built.

SCR 7, sponsored by Sen. Phil Pavlov, calls for a safe and permanent location to store nuclear waste and to require that a proposed facility in Ontario and any nuclear waste repository requested to be built in the Great Lakes basin first be approved by the International Joint Commission.

“Our federal government has identified a safe and scientifically acceptable location, yet refuses to move forward with its funding and implementation. Meanwhile, Canada is pursuing a flawed nuclear waste policy that could result in a permanent storage site on the shores of the Great Lakes,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “Leadership is needed to put our national and regional nuclear policy on a better course.”

The Canadian company Ontario Power Generation plans to permanently bury radioactive waste in Kincardine, Ontario, less than a mile from the shores of Lake Huron. Pavlov has been a leading opponent of the company’s plans.

In 1982, Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act requiring the federal government to follow a strict timeline for building a permanent repository for high-level radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants. According to the act, the repository should have started accepting waste by 1998.

SCRs 6-8 have been introduced and referred to the Senate Energy and Technology Committee for consideration.

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Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sens. Pavlov, Proos and Zorn will be available on each senator’s websites at:

Pavlov: www.SenatorPhilPavlov.com. Click on “Audio” in the Media Center.

Proos: www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Audio” in the Media Center.

Zorn: www.SenatorDaleZorn.com. Click on “Audio” in the Media Center.