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Congressman Harley Rouda introduces bill to improve America’s nuclear waste storage system

Harley Rouda

Congressman Harley Rouda (CA-48), along with Representative Richard Neal (MA-01), Representative Mike Levin (CA-49), and Representative Salud Carbajal (CA-24) introduced H.R. 8572, the Securing America’s Nuclear Waste Act. This bill seeks to address the large quantities of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste currently stored on-site at decommissioning and decommissioned nuclear reactors across the country by studying the risk factors and effects of current storage options, examining the economic benefits of consolidated interim storage (CIS), and creating a more transparent and equitable system for long-term storage through an auction process or other market-based system for selecting CIS facilities.

Last year, Congressman Rouda, the Chairman of the Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment, held a field hearing in Laguna Niguel on “Examining America’s Nuclear Waste Management, Storage, and the Need for Solutions.” The hearing featured expert testimony that recognized that the disposal of spent nuclear fuel is a bipartisan issue requiring forward-thinking solutions, including market-based approaches that adequately consider environmental and health impacts, address safety concerns, and provide economic incentives to advance long-term storage solutions.

“Spent nuclear fuel threatens Orange County families and millions of Americans who live near nuclear waste sites, like the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS),” said Rouda. “For 30 years, Congress has failed to follow through on a solution to our nation’s nuclear waste problem, despite the serious risks associated with this dangerous material that will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. My legislation seeks to secure nuclear waste by studying the environmental, health, and safety risks and creating common-sense, market-based solutions for the selection of storage sites.”

“In the United States, spent nuclear fuel is currently stored at approximately 100 sites across at least 34 states, and it is Congress’ responsibility to take action to protect our communities and create a lasting waste management solutions,” continued Rouda. “Determining where to locate nuclear waste storage facilities is difficult, but this common-sense legislation would advance critical steps to better understand our current management practices, while helping to shape policies for the future.”

“In my district, more than 1,600 tons of nuclear waste is sitting on San Onofre State Beach, located near active earthquake fault lines and millions of families. Getting that waste off of our beach is one of my top priorities,” said Rep. Levin. “As part of that process, it’s important that we examine the risks posed by keeping the waste on the beach and the benefits associated with a more responsible storage location. I’m grateful for the work my friend Congressman Rouda is doing to foster innovation in the management of spent nuclear fuel, and I’m proud to support the Securing America’s Nuclear Waste Act.”

“Nuclear fuel waste must be properly disposed of for the health and safety of our communities. The decommissioning of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is fast approaching on the Central Coast, and it’s more important than ever that we ensure an environmentally just, safe, and economical disposal of this waste,” said Rep. Carbajal. “That’s why I’m joining my colleagues to introduce this bill and revise the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to ensure we study the health, environment, and safety risks associated with nuclear waste storage sites across the country and create long term waste management solutions.”

It has been more than 30 years since Congress significantly revised the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Unfortunately, during this period, little has been done to meaningfully address the disposition of SNF, the byproduct of electricity generation at nuclear reactors. Without a permanent geologic repository, communities across the country have had no choice but to continue hosting high-level radioactive waste. Currently, it is estimated that one in every three Americans live within 50 miles of nuclear waste.

The Securing America’s Nuclear Waste Act would address these concerns through a three-part strategy to increase our understanding of the environmental, health, and safety effects associated with current storage, as well as a re-evaluation of our nation’s management plan, and an effort to create innovative, market-based solutions to determine long-term storage locations. The bill would direct:

This article was released by the Office of Congressman Harley Rouda.

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