Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT-2) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT-at large) announced that they introduced legislation to help communities struggling with the costs of storing so-called "stranded nuclear waste.'
The Stranded Nuclear Waste Accountability Act of 2017 - which was introduced yesterday - will provide payments to local communities to cover the losses associated with storing nuclear waste at retired nuclear sites until a new national facility can be opened. Haddam, Connecticut in Courtney's district, the former home of the Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant, and Vernon, Vermont in Welch's district, home of Vermont Yankee are two of thirteen communities nationwide currently forced to store spent fuel and high-level radioactive waste locally.
"It is long past time for the federal government to live up to its commitments on spent nuclear fuel disposal," Courtney said. "We cannot allow small communities and municipalities continue to be financially hurt while they await action on the establishment of a federal nuclear waste storage facility. Our bill will compensate local communities that have become de facto interim storage locations for toxic nuclear waste until a centralized storage location can be opened. This proposal is an acknowledgment that communities like Haddam deserve restitution for storing spent nuclear fuel long after the federal government committed to taking on the burden."
"The federal government must comply with the law and move spent nuclear waste from the nation's fleet of nuclear power plants to a federally operated storage facility," Welch said. "Due to federal inaction, communities hosting nuclear power plants have no choice but to take on this responsibility on an interim basis. They should be compensated for doing so. Our bill would do just that."
The Stranded Nuclear Waste Accountability Act of 2017 will allow communities that have become de facto interim storage sites to receive compensation from the Nuclear Waste General Fund at a rate of $15/kilogram of spent nuclear fuel. This is the same rate that would be provided to a community that agreed to be interim storage site under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1983. However, no such storage site was ever designated by the Department of Energy. This funding will provide the thirteen communities housing stranded nuclear fuel nationwide a much-needed economic injection. Haddam, Connecticut--home of the decommissioned Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant--is one such community that would benefit from this legislation. Five acres of land in the town continues to operate under a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license storing 413.5 metric tons (43 dry storage casks) of spent fuel and high-level radioactive waste.
Courtney and Welch introduced a similar measure last Congress.