Issue Date: November 30, 2009
Nuclear Waste Plan Called Unlawful
In a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, two Republican members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee have objected to the recent draft program decision by DOE signaling its intention to close down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada by 2010. Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) have obtained a draft DOE budget document that proposes cutting this year’s funding of $196 million for the repository to $46 million in 2011 and ending funding in 2012. The $46 million would be split between worker transition and archiving Yucca Mountain data. DOE acknowledges the document but says it is a draft at this time. Barton and Walden say Chu’s action is a violation of the law and have called for congressional review. The budget document, however, is consistent with Chu’s announcement in March that he would no longer consider placing high-level radioactive waste at the site and would reexamine the fate of high-level radioactive commercial waste. He told Congress he would appoint a blue-ribbon panel to examine the issues and they would report their views by the end of this year. No panel has yet been appointed (C&EN, March 23, page 35).
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