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Coming to Grips with Nuclear Waste

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Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) today introduced legislation (S. 3469) to implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. The commission examined the nation's nuclear waste management policy, considered alternatives and recommended a new approach. Its report was issued in January.

The commission made eight clear, concise proposals. Most notably, it recommended that the U.S. adopt a new, consent-based approach to siting nuclear waste management facilities, and that the country establish a new organization to manage its nuclear waste management program.

In addition, the commission affirmed the need to build one or more geologic repositories in which nuclear waste can be permanently buried; it endorsed the need to build one or more temporary storage facilities in which nuclear waste can be stored until a permanent repository is built; it emphasized the importance of giving the new organization access to the funds needed to implement the program; and it made useful recommendations on transportation, and on the importance of continued support for nuclear research and development and international nuclear non-proliferation programs.

Bingaman had been working with Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to try to put the Commission's recommendations into legislative language. They were unable to agree on how to do that.

"Nonetheless, we agreed that I should introduce legislation and that the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources should hold a hearing on it in September," Bingaman said. "I recognize, of course, that the bill will not become law this year. But my hope is to obtain testimony on it and to build a legislative record that might serve as the foundation for further consideration and ultimate enactment in the next Congress."


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