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High-Level Nuclear Waste

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SHIMKUS. Before my Pennsylvania friends get all freaked out, I appreciate you letting me come to the floor for 5 minutes to do what is now a weekly constitutional of mine and talk about high level nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain.

What I have been doing, to set the stage, is going around the country highlighting locations where there's nuclear waste throughout this country, and just making the statement that it is in the national interest, and actually it's national Federal law that this waste be consolidated in a centralized storage facility. And so with that, I'll begin.

Today we're headed to the great State of Minnesota, and we're looking at a nuclear power plant called Prairie Island. Now, Prairie Island has 725 million tons of uranium, of spent fuel, onsite. Prairie Island has waste stored above the ground in pools and dry casks.

Prairie Island is in the Mississippi River floodplain, as you can see from the photo here. And Prairie Island is 50 miles from the Twin Cities.

Now, where should this waste be? Well, this waste should be where an 1982 energy policy, the Waste Policy Act, and then the amendments in 1987 said, by Federal law, it should be, which is underneath a mountain in a desert. And where is that mountain? The mountain's called Yucca Mountain.

Currently, after $15 billion spent researching and preparing the site, we have zero nuclear waste onsite. If we were storing the nuclear waste there, it would be 1,000 feet underground. It would be 1,000 feet above the water table, and it would be 100 miles from the nearest body of water, which would be the Colorado River.

Now, look at the difference between Yucca Mountain, 100 miles from the Colorado River, versus nuclear waste right next to the Mississippi River, actually in the Mississippi River floodplain.

So, why aren't we doing what the law has dictated? Well, we have the majority leader of the Senate who's been blocking funding and stopping any movement to do the final scientific study. In fact, the will of the House was spoken last year when we voted, I think, 297 votes, bipartisan votes, to complete the funding and the study.

So let's look at the Senators from the region of where this nuclear power plant is. And it's very curious: The two Senators from Minnesota, Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken, they're silent. They're silent on nuclear waste in their own State. It's very curious. Not only nuclear waste, but nuclear waste on the river.

And then you go to North Dakota. Senator Conrad has voted ``no.'' Senator Hoeven supports it.

South Dakota, Senator Johnson voted ``no.'' This is all in the region.

Senator Thune supports. Senator Nelson votes in support of Yucca Mountain. Senator Johnson votes in support of Yucca Mountain.

Now, Minnesota has two sites, three reactors; two of them are right in this location. So, as I've been coming down to the floor, if you add these new Senators to the total tally, right now we have 40 Senators who have expressed support for moving high-level nuclear waste. We have 12 who are curiously silent on nuclear waste in their State or in their region, and we have 10 who have stated a position of ``no.''

It's in the best interest of our country, for the safety and security of this country, that we consolidate in a centralized location, underneath a mountain, in a desert, in the defined spot by law, which is Yucca Mountain.

And again, I want to thank my colleagues and friends from Pennsylvania for allowing me to intrude upon their hour.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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