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Public Statements

Yucca Mountain

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, this is my third time on the floor to talk about high-level nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain. I started talking about Hanford, which is in Washington State, comparing it to the Yucca facility. In Hanford, 53 million gallons of nuclear waste; zero at Yucca. Nuclear waste is stored 10 feet underground in Hanford; waste will be stored 1,000 feet underground in Yucca. Waste 1,000 feet from the water table at Yucca; 250 feet from the water table in Hanford.

At Yucca the nuclear waste will be 100 miles from the nearest river. At Hanford, it's 1 mile from the nearest river. So what are the Senators' positions on Yucca Mountain in Washington State and Oregon, knowing that we have 53 million gallons of high-level nuclear waste 1 mile from the Columbia River?

Senator Cantwell is not supportive of Yucca Mountain. Senator Murray is supportive, at least in her public statements. Senator Wyden is not supportive. And Senator Merkley is silent. They should not be silent.

A couple of weeks ago I then moved to my home State of Illinois and the decommissioned Zion nuclear power plant that still has high-level nuclear waste on site. Again, the same statistics for Yucca are there in a desert away from a river.

Zion is on Lake Michigan. Zion has 65 casks containing 1,135 metric tons of nuclear waste, waste stored above ground 5 feet above the water table, 1,300 feet from Lake Michigan. And Wisconsin has two nuclear power plants also on Lake Michigan. So what do the senators from the two States say?

Well, Senator Durbin is supportive of Yucca Mountain. Senator Kirk is supportive of Yucca Mountain. Senator Kohl is supportive of Yucca Mountain. Senator Johnson is still silent on Yucca Mountain. I imagine we'll know soon.

Now we move to Georgia and South Carolina. Look at the difference here. Savannah River has 6,300 canisters of nuclear waste on-site. The waste is stored right below the ground. It is 0 to 160 feet above the water table, and it's right next to the Savannah River.

Again, compare that to Yucca Mountain--no nuclear waste. Waste would be stored 1,000 feet underground, 1,000 feet above the water table, and 100 miles from the Colorado River.

So where are these senators from Georgia and South Carolina? Well, Senator Isakson says ``We need to retain Yucca Mountain as our Nation's high-level waste repository.'' So he supports.

Senator Chambliss says, ``We have long advocated that the Department of Energy immediately halt all actions to dismantle operations at Yucca Mountain.'' He supports.

Senator Graham: ``No one should be required to pay for an empty hole in the Nevada desert.''

``The decision by the Obama administration to close Yucca Mountain was ill-advised and leaves our Nation without a disposal plan for spent nuclear fuel or Cold War waste.'' That's what Hanford is, Cold War nuclear waste from our weapons sector.

What does Senator DeMint say? ``Without Yucca Mountain, America will not have a safe and secure place to permanently store nuclear waste and instead waste will pile up at existing reactors.''

We will continue, and I will continue to come down on the floor and go through the Nation highlighting high-level nuclear waste all over this country when the Federal law under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 says we should have one site, and the law says that site is Yucca Mountain.

And so as we continue to go through the States, hopefully some Senators will get off the dime and state their positions, culminating with 60 Senators in support as we move this forward, this Nation forward, to a more secure location for high-level nuclear waste away from lakes, away from rivers, away from the groundwater tables.

There's no safer place on the planet than underneath the mountain in a desert, and that place is Yucca Mountain.

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