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Public Statements

Yucca Mountain

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I come to the floor again, as I have in the past 2 years, to talk about the location of high-level nuclear waste around this country and compare and contrast it with where we have high-level nuclear waste, mostly spent nuclear fuel, but other types defined as waste, and compare it to where it should be based upon a 1982 law, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and the 1987 amendment to that law which identified Yucca Mountain as the location where we should be storing high-level nuclear waste.

Today we go to the Pennsylvania and West Virginia areas, and we compare Yucca Mountain with a nuclear power plant called Limerick. At Yucca Mountain, currently there is no nuclear waste on site. At Limerick, there are 1,143 metric tons of uranium spent nuclear fuel on the site. At Yucca Mountain, the waste would be stored, if it's there, a thousand feet underground. At Limerick, you can see waste is stored aboveground in pools and casks. That's above ground.

If it was stored in Yucca Mountain, it would be a thousand feet above the water table. Why is that? Well, Yucca Mountain is in a desert, so that's why the water table is very, very low. Well, at Limerick, the waste is stored 20 feet above the groundwater.

Finally, Yucca Mountain is 100 miles from the Colorado River. Limerick is on the Schuylkill River 40 miles from Philadelphia. Yucca is about 100 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada. The importance of this is just to address with Fukushima Daiichi, and nuclear waste, and some difficulties we've had, and public policy being as defined by law. The question is, why do we still have nuclear waste in Pennsylvania right outside Philadelphia, and why don't we have it underneath a mountain in a desert?

The answer is--I know it would shock people--politics here in Washington, especially in the other Chamber, not complying with the law, along with an administration that is in league with those who have blocked a final scientific study for Yucca Mountain. What I have been doing is going around and looking at the senators from the States around the nuclear power plants that I have been addressing.

Where do they stand individually? Well, Senator Casey, a relatively new Senator, has really been silent on that, although he has said, as a Senator from a State with 9 commercial reactors and 10 million people living within 50 miles of those reactors, I can tell you that nuclear security is extremely important to Pennsylvanians. Obviously the nuclear waste is not that important to him since he has been silent on Yucca Mountain.

Senator Toomey is quoted as saying the alternative is what we have now, highly active radio waste located at 131 sites in 39 States, including nuclear power plants close to the Lehigh Valley. That cannot be as safe and secure as burying the waste deep in Yucca Mountain. I would agree with the Senator.

Senator Manchin from West Virginia, who is relatively new, has been silent on what we should do with the high-level nuclear waste. Part of this process is to identify that and hopefully have him come out in a statement. Senator Rockefeller voted ``no.'' His statement is, nuclear energy is touted by its proponents as a carbon-free option that should have its share of the Nation's electricity generation expanded.

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