WASHINGTON, D.C., May 1, 2002 — The New England Council called on members of Congress to support legislation which paves the way for nuclear waste disposal in the mountains of Nevada.
Industry leaders from the Council — the nation’s oldest regional business organization — met with several members of Congress today on Capitol Hill, urging them to approve the designation and licensing of Yucca Mountain as the location for storing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. The House is expected to vote on this legislation in the next week.
“If Congress does not act, the current proposal is cancelled and all spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste will remain stranded in New England until Congress establishes a new federal plan,” said James T. Brett, President and CEO, The New England Council.
There are currently nine commercial reactors at sites in New England, located in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Four of the nine reactors are permanently shut down but cannot be fully decommissioned until the spent nuclear fuel is removed.
Congress charged the Department of Energy with the responsibility of removing all commercial spent nuclear fuel from reactor sites across the country under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982.
“To date, the federal government has spent approximately $8 billion studying Yucca Mountain and recently deemed it suitable for licensing as the nation’s centralized underground repository for spent nuclear fuel,” Brett said. “Congress also created the Nuclear Waste Fund to fund the federal government’s obligation to transport, store and dispose spent fuel from nuclear electricity plants. Since that fund was established, the federal government ahs collected more than $19 billion from electricity ratepayers — more than $1.5 billion from New England alone.”
Today’s meetings follow other Council activity in recent weeks. The Council has also met with the Senate delegation on this issue.
In February, President George W. Bush approved the recommendation for the Yucca Mountain project. Congress has 90 days to approve the President’s decision or the objection from the state of Nevada will prevail and the Yucca Mountain project will be cancelled.
The New England Council is an alliance of large and small companies, educational institutions, nonprofit and other agencies dedicated to supporting economic development and a high quality of life in the six-state region.