National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005

By:  Lindsey Graham
Date: June 3, 2004
Location: Washington DC

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD
SENATE

NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005

Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, in terms of my senior Senator, who I respect greatly, there is no doubt in my mind that he loves his State. Secondly, this is not about who loves South Carolina. We have a policy disagreement about what is best for our State. That happens on occasion in politics. Senator Hollings has been more than gracious in terms of helping me adjust to the Senate and coming to my office, and I publicly acknowledge that. I regret that we differ, but we do.

I assure my colleagues that I just did not wake up one day, as the junior Senator from South Carolina, sneaking around everybody to come up with an amendment that would change the whole national policy on nuclear waste for the heck of it. I didn't do that. I have been in Congress now for 10 years and in the Senate for a little over a year and a half. In the House, I represented the Savannah River site, our State's largest employer. It is the facility that was intricately involved in winning the cold war. We have over 50 tanks full of high-level liquid waste.

The Clinton administration and myself had a bumpy road. I think it is fair to say I did not agree with the Clinton administration a lot, but one thing that we did find common ground about in the 1997 timeframe and I think Senator Allard probably remembers this-is that the Clinton administration came up with a new way of looking at high-level waste, how you characterize it.

There was a hearing about this in 2000 in the Senate before I got here. During the Clinton administration, the policy was-and before the Clinton administration-that if the material started out life as high-level liquid waste, no matter what happened in the intervening time or whatever characterization it had after being treated, it would have to be considered high-level waste-defense material, high-level waste. The Clinton administration said that is not very logical. What we need to do is look at the characterization of the waste at the end, not where it came from. There was a hearing in May of 2000 about that concept. I supported that concept then and I support it now.

In all due deference to my senior Senator, there is nothing in this amendment that changes the definition of high-level nuclear waste. The way you look at high-level nuclear waste and the way you characterize it was changed in the Clinton administration in a logical way. We have cleaned up two tanks. That has been lost in this debate. There are 50-plus tanks of high-level liquid waste. Two of them have been dried up and cleaned up. The procedures to clean up those tanks have worked. That has been several years ago. This amendment allows more money to be put on the table to clean up the rest of the tanks.

Here is what we have been able to do. We have been able to strike an agreement between the environmental regulators in South Carolina and the Department of Energy defining what "clean" is in terms of those tanks. All of the liquid waste will be taken out. There will be about an inch and a quarter of material left in the bottom of the tank, like the other two tanks that have already been closed. There will be a process to treat that inch and a quarter. The NRC has been consulted and has blessed this project, saying what is left in the bottom of the tank after it is treated is waste incidental to reposit.

About people and their opinions regarding what is best for the safety of my State, my senior Senator has been an advocate for my State for a very long time. I respect him. I can assure you I share his concerns about what is best for the environment of this region.

I have some letters I would like to introduce. I have a letter from the Governor of South Carolina that I think he has already introduced. Last week, when we talked about this, Senator Hollings said he cannot believe the Governor would support this. He has been a great environmentalist.

Mark Sanford, our Governor, does have a very good environmental record, depending on what scorecard you want to look at. But Mark comes from the coast. I think most people would say he has been environmentally sensitive.

The letter that Senator Hollings read, please do not misunderstand at all, this is an absolute total endorsement of this amendment by our Governor. I am not the type of Senator who would not tell our Governor what we are doing. The Governor was given the language a long time ago.

On April 27, we had a delegation meeting about this language. I have been shopping this language around for weeks. We have been talking about how to clean up Idaho, Washington, and South Carolina for years. We have had hearings in Senator Allard's committee about this very topic, where DOE came in and talked about the plan to clean up these tanks and talked about the two tanks that had already been cleaned up.

There have been negotiations going on between Idaho, Washington, and South Carolina, independent of each other, with the DOE to try to find a common ground in those States as to how to clean up this high-level liquid waste.

To my colleague in Washington, who truly is a friend, and I am sorry we got so off stripped on this, we will get over it and work together for the common good when this is over.

On January 26, 2004, Congressman Hastings, Senator Murray, and Senator Cantwell sent a letter to Governor Locke and Secretary Abraham and asked them to work together to resolve the ongoing dispute over waste classification. They did a very good thing in that regard. I ask unanimous consent to print that letter in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,

Washington, DC, January 26, 2004.
Hon. GARY LOCKE,
Governor, State of Washington,
Olympia, WA.
Hon. SPENCER ABRAHAM,
Secretary, Department of Energy,
Washington, DC.

DEAR GOVERNOR LOCKE AND SECRETARY ABRAHAM: We have become increasingly concerned about the lack of an agreement between the State of Washington and the Department of Energy to resolve the ongoing dispute pertaining to the classification of High Level Waste.
Our primary and overriding concern is the safe and timely cleanup of the Hanford site. We know that we share this goal with both the State of Washington and the United States Department of Energy.

We are calling on you to take the initiative to establish immediate high level discussions between the State of Washington and the Department of Energy to resolve this issue. We would like to see a commitment to continue the dialogue until such time as a mutually acceptable agreement can be reached.

We know the parties have legitimate disagreements. We would ask that such conversations take place without preconditions being set, which could serve to hinder successful negotiations.

The stakes are incredibly high and the price of failure is the continued exposure of the people and the environment to unnecessary risks, by potentially slowing the pace of cleanup activities.

We know you share our commitment to making our communities safe. We ask for your leadership to create momentum for a successful resolution of this issue.

In the past when seemingly intractable problems have faced cleanup obstacles, they have been solved by your common commitment to rise above the obstacles to reach shared objectives. We are confident that working together this outcome can be reached.
Sincerely,

Congressman DOC HASTINGS,

Senator PATTY MURRAY,

Senator MARIA CANTWELL.

Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, the letter was an effort by the legislative delegation in the State of Washington to get the DOE to come up with some classification system for Hanford.

Our distinguished Presiding Officer from the State of Idaho has been working for months now for his State to see if they could come up with a classification system for the State of Idaho. In February 2004, the Governor of Washington indicated he would designate someone to enter into discussion on behalf of the State of Washington. Governor Locke's chief of staff called the Deputy Secretary to indicate he was the Governor's designee to hold discussions with the Department of Energy. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Energy shared draft language with the State of Washington.

What has been going on here for a very long time is a collaborative process between the three States and the Department of Energy to remediate the environment when it comes to high-level waste in a manner acceptable to the State. That is the process. That has always been the process, and that must be the process.

But here is what we do not want to do as we negotiate individually. We do not want to, as my senior Senator said, have a State have the ability to define high-level waste because it is a national concern and a national issue. So we have been jealously guarding that concept. This amendment does not give the State of South Carolina the ability to define high-level waste because we would have 50 different versions. What it does do is it requires a collaborative process. We have already closed two tanks, and before those two tanks could be closed, South Carolina had to issue a permit saying: Yes, they are able to be closed. This amendment gives the State of South Carolina permitting authority over tank closure. That is exactly what Washington and Idaho are trying to pursue.

Governor Locke has been working with DOE. The difference is South Carolina has gotten there, and to my friend from Washington, there will come a day-soon, I hope-where you can negotiate classification of waste with DOE satisfactory to Washington. And there will come a day when the Governor of Washington, whoever that may be, will say: That is a good deal. And the regulators in the State will say: That is a good classification with which we can live.

The truth is, if that day ever arrives, because of the way the Nuclear Waste Policy Act is written, you are going to need legislative language to bless that agreement.

Washington has a severe problem with tank leakage. I want to tell my friends from Washington, if that day arrives to where you can find a standard acceptable to your State-

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has used 10 minutes.

Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. I ask for 5 more minutes.

Mr. ALLARD. I yield an additional 5 minutes.

Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. If that day ever arrives, the Senator from Washington is going to come to this body, and I am going to help her. I say the same to my friend from Idaho. That day has arrived in South Carolina. We have vetted this proposal with everybody I know.

I ask unanimous consent that a letter from the Speaker of the South Carolina House, David Wilkins, be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

SOUTH CAROLINA
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Columbia, SC, May 27, 2004.
Hon. LINDSEY GRAHAM,
U.S. Senate,
Washington, DC.

DEAR SENATOR GRAHAM: It has come to my attention that you have included language in the FY 2005 Department of Defense Authorization bill, S. 2400, which would allow for accelerated cleanup of the Savannah River Site. I write today to express my support of Section 3116.

I understand that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has worked with you since August of last year to craft legislation that gives South Carolina "a seat at the table" when determining what radioactive materials will remain in South Carolina. I support that goal and the expedited cleanup of the radioactive waste tanks at the Savannah River Site.

South Carolina and the Department of Energy have had a good working relationship over the years. It is my sincere hope that your legislation will allow this partnership to continue in a mutually beneficial way which cleans up SRS more expeditiously and in a fiscally prudent manner.

I concur with Governor Sanford. This language will allow for a more accelerated cleanup process and will help protect the State's sovereignty with respect to the accelerated cleanup.

Thank you for your service to the State. I look forward to working with you on this and other issues of importance to the State and Nation.
Sincerely,

DAVID H. WILKINS,
Speaker of the House.

Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a letter from the deputy commissioner of the South Carolina Environmental Quality Control, Robert King, Jr., be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL,
Columbia, SC, May 18, 2004.
Hon. LINDSEY O. GRAHAM,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Re: Sec. 3116. Defense Site Acceleration Completion

DEAR SENATOR GRAHAM: The Department has reviewed the above referenced language proposed to be added to the S. 2400 National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2005. As you are aware, the Department considers the storage of high-level radioactive waste in aging tanks at the Savannah River Site to be the single most potentially hazardous condition to the environment and people of South Carolina. In fact, the Department has worked closely with the Department of Energy (DOE) to safely close two of the original fifty-one storage tanks.

It is the Department's position that the above referenced language will provide a process to close the remaining storage tanks in a similar manner. This will include removing highly radioactive radionuclides to the maximum extent possible and will also provide for public participation in the decision-making process.

As always, alternative language could be developed; however, this proposed language allows DOE to move forward with the important task of removing the high-level radioactive waste from the storage tanks while providing a decision-making framework in which the State is included.

If you have any questions or need any further information, please have your staff contact David Wilson at (803) 896-4004.
Sincerely,

ROBERT W. KING, JR.,
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, ENVIRONMENTAL
Quality Control.

Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, this letter to me says that the agreement they have achieved with DOE is environmentally sound for South Carolina; we would like to move forward with tank cleanup. Here is why this is so important to my State: It will allow $88 million to be put on the table. It will allow these tanks, now that we have reached an agreement to become dry and safe and secure and closed up, to be closed 23 years ahead of schedule. I invite everybody in this body to come to Aiken, SC, and the surrounding community to enjoy golf, leisure, and fishing. I will take you fishing in the Savannah River, if you would like to go.

I do not want 23 years to go by and the chance of the tanks leaking to grow. I do not want the problem that Washington has. I want Washington to be able to fix their problem, and I will help the State of Washington. But I have a chance to do something in my State that we have not had a chance to do in 10 years. The origin of this being done started in the Clinton administration, and we are building on what happened then.

This amendment is focused only on the agreement in South Carolina. Senator Crapo, Senator Craig, and Senator Alexander have an amendment to make it absolutely certain. I think it already is, but I am not here to put any other State in a bad situation. I am not here to make Washington do what we are doing in South Carolina or to prejudice Idaho at all. I am just simply asking this body to listen to the people who are responsible for the ground water who tell me this is a good agreement, it will help my State if we move forward on it, and it will safe $16 billion, for whatever that is worth.

The attorney general of South Carolina was mentioned by my distinguished senior Senator. I have a letter from him supporting this agreement. I ask unanimous consent to print this letter in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA,
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL,
May 18, 2004.
Re: Sec. 3116. Defense Site Acceleration Completion

Hon. LINDSEY GRAHAM,
U.S. Senate,
Washington, DC.

DEAR SENATOR GRAHAM: It is my understanding that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control supports your proposed amendment to be added to the S. 2400 National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2005.

DHEC considers the storage of high-level radioactive waste in aging tanks at the Savannah River Site to be potentially the most hazardous environmental situation in South Carolina. Your proposed amendment allows federal authorities to remove this radioactive hazardous waste, while ensuring that the State is statutorily included in the process, with ultimate "veto" power on removal decisions.

Please allow this letter to serve as my official statement of support for your amendment.

Thank you for all that you do on behalf of South Carolina and its grateful citizens.
Yours very truly,

HENRY MCMASTER.

Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, when we talk about people with agendas, there are all kinds of political agendas when one talks about nuclear programs. That is just politics, and that is the strength of America. There is nothing wrong with that.

I have a letter from the Aiken County, SC, legislative delegation-Democrat and Republican house members and senators-who say please approve this agreement because it will clean up these tanks ahead of schedule, and it will be a good thing for our community. The difference between them and the New York Times, which is a great paper, is they live there. The Savannah River site is located in Aiken, SC.

I ask unanimous consent that the letter be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

AIKEN COUNTY,
LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION,
Aiken, South Carolina, May 25, 2004.
Hon. LINDSEY O. GRAHAM,
Russell Senate Office Building,
Washington, DC.

DEAR SENATOR GRAHAM: We are writing to support Section 3116, Defense Site Acceleration Completion, in S. 2400. As we understand it, this section of the bill will allow The Savannah River Site to accelerate cleanup of the Site's remaining waste tanks in a manner consistent with the way Tanks 17 and 20 were closed in the late 1990s.

We believe that your language will allow the establishment of environmentally prudent regulations regarding tank waste that will allow the Department of Energy, in conjunction with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, to move more quickly to clean up the Savannah River Site.

We especially appreciate your efforts to work with the State to ensure the State of South Carolina will have a seat at the table when determining the ultimate disposition of any materials left in the state. We concur with Governor Sanford that according to analysis by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the cleanup process envisioned by Section 3116 will provide "a decision making framework in which the State is included."

We appreciate your efforts on behalf of the Aiken Community to get this cleanup done expeditiously and your continued efforts to do it in a way that decreases the impact on the taxpayers of this nation.
Senator W. Greg Ryberg, Senator Thomas L. Moore, Senator Nikki Setzler, Representative Robert S. Perry, Jr., Representative Donald C. Smith, Representative William "Bill" Clyburn, Representative J. Roland Smith, Representative James "Jim" Stewart, Jr., Representative Ken Clark.

Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, I have another letter from the mayor of Aiken, Fred Cavanaugh, who worked at this site, supporting this agreement. In addition, I have a letter from Ronnie Young, the chairman of the Aiken County Council, where the council endorses this amendment.

I have a letter from the Chamber of Commerce, the people who have to make a living. I can assure you the Aiken County Chamber of Commerce believes this will not poison the area. It will do absolutely the opposite. It will make it more attractive.

I ask unanimous consent to print those letters in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

CITY OF AIKEN, SC,
May 26, 2004.
Hon. LINDSEY GRAHAM,
Russell Senate Building,
Washington, DC.

DEAR SENATOR GRAHAM: I want to thank you for the positive work you are doing on behalf of the citizens of our country, South Carolina and closer to home, Aiken County. More precisely, thank you for seeking a resolution to the questions related to the definition of-radioactive waste incidental to reprocessing (WIR). As we know, radioactive waste stored in underground tanks is the greatest potential risk to public health and the environment at the Savannah River Site (SRS), and unless resolved, the WIR lawsuit and related issues will stop these critical activities. Your amendment to the Senate Armed Services Committee Authorization Bill will allow for the continued removal and disposition of the waste in a safe manner, and we believe it is critical that it be enacted into law.

Your amendment allows SRS to continue to remove waste and close tanks to the same standards and with the same diligence as in the past. It has the endorsement of SC/DHEC and the Governor of South Carolina. Under your amendment SC/DHEC will continue to oversee and approve all SRS waste removal and disposal activities thus assuring continued protection to the public and environment.

Conversely, without your amendment, activities to remove and dispose of high level radioactive waste will be stopped and wastes will remain in the less safe liquid form in fifty year old underground tanks. Instead of completing waste removal by 2018, wastes will remain in the old tanks. Equally critical will be the loss of trained and skilled SRS workers because this critical work will stop. I support your amendment as being in the best interest of the citizens of South Carolina who are interested in the safe removal and disposition of high level radioactive wastes. Please convey my position on this important matter to your colleagues in Congress.

Sincerely,
FRED B. CAVANAUGH,
Mayor.

AIKEN COUNTY COUNCIL,
Aiken, SC, May 25, 2004.
Hon. LINDSEY O. GRAHAM,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

DEAR SENATOR GRAHAM: This letter comes as confirmation of my support of Section 3116, Defense Site Acceleration Completion in the FY 2005 Department of Defense Authorization Bill, S. 2400. This bill will allow for an accelerated clean up of the Savannah River Site.

Aiken County is very concerned with the storage of high level radioactive waste in aging tanks at the Savannah River Site. Under the present Nuclear Waste-Policy Act, the cleanup could leave the waste in the aging storage tanks for approximately 30 additional years. This possibly is the most potentially hazardous condition to the people and environment of South Carolina.

However, with the acceptance of Section 3116, Defense Site Acceleration Completion, the Department of Energy and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control will be able to move much more quickly to cleanup the Savannah River Site, with an estimated savings of $16 billion to the taxpayers.

During the cleanup, it is of major importance to the citizens of South Carolina that we are allowed to retain an oversite role in the cleanup process.

I urge you and your fellow statesmen to allow for the accelerated cleanup process at the Savannah River Site and to provide a decision making framework in which the State of South Carolina is included.

If you have additional questions or need other information, please contact me at (803) 642-1690.
Sincerely,
RONNIE YOUNG,

Chairman, Aiken County Council.

GREATER AIKEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE,
May 25, 2004.
Hon. LINDSEY GRAHAM,
Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC.

DEAR SENATOR GRAHAM: Let me begin by saying thank you for your efforts in seeking a resolution to the uncertainties related to the definition of radioactive waste incidental to reprocessing (WIR). Radioactive waste stored in underground tanks is the greatest potential risk to public health and the environment of the Savannah River Site, and unless resolved, the WIR lawsuit and related issues will stop those critical activities. Your amendment to the Senate Armed Services Committee authorization bill will allow for the continued removal and disposition of waste in a safe manner.

SRS has safely removed radioactive wastes from underground tanks for almost ten years and has permanently closed two tanks. These efforts were permitted by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC/DHEC) with the oversight of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has reviewed the SRS program and stated that it is comparable to commercial requirements and standards.

The Chamber supports your amendment as being in the best interest of those citizens in Aiken and South Carolina who are interested in the safe removal and disposition of high-level radioactive wastes.

Without your amendment, activities to remove and dispose of high level radioactive wastes will be stopped and wastes will remain in the less safe liquid form in fifty-year old underground tanks. Instead of completing waste removal by 2018, wastes will remain in tanks for a significantly longer period of time. Additionally, the SRS cannot afford to loose these highly trained and skilled employees.

In closing, the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, representing 900 businesses and 40,000 employees within the region believes that it is critical that your amendment be enacted into law. Again, thank you for your continued support of the greater Aiken region.

Signature,
CHARLES WEISS,
President & CEO.

Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, I have letters from the mayor of Jackson, SC, which is down site; the Aiken Electric Cooperative; the Economic Development Partnership from Aiken; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has blessed this project saying that what is left in the tank is waste incidental to reprocessing; the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has looked at this amendment; the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce, a community on the other side of the site; and the SRS Retiree Association, people who worked their whole lives out there supporting this.

Mr. President, quickly, we will have more time to talk. This is a big deal to my State. Similar efforts are ongoing in other States, and I hope they get there. I am not going to do anything to prejudice their ability to get there on their terms. I am simply asking that the deal struck between the environmental regulators and our Governor in South Carolina be approved so that we can clean up the rest of these tanks, the 49 remaining, in an economically and environmentally sound fashion.

That is all this has ever been about.