The legislation comes at a delicate time when America is in limbo following the halting of the politically-mired Yucca Mountain Project.

U.S._Capitol_BuildingFour Senators in a bipartisan team released draft legislation aimed at reaching a long-term solution to the question of where to put the Nation’s nuclear waste (Senate Energy).

Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) worked closely with the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), to propose actual legislation that would implement recommendations made last year by the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

This legislation comes at a delicate time when America is in limbo following the halting of the politically-mired Yucca Mountain Project, the nation’s first selected high-level nuclear waste disposal site. The Blue Ribbon Commission was formed to address this limbo and they made some very ingenious and useful recommendations (BRC recs).

Two specific recommendations were seized upon by the Senate as being the means to break the nuclear log jam and flow towards a strategy that could actually work:

1) formation of a new government agency outside of the Department of Energy, in this draft called the Nuclear Waste Administration, to execute the program. In order to do so, Congress will give this agency control of the Nuclear Waste Fund, a rate-payer tax collected for commercial spent nuclear fuel. In addition, this Nuclear Waste Administration will get supplemental appropriations to deal with defense nuclear waste.

2) interim storage for spent nuclear fuel and consideration of the possibility of separating high-level defense waste from commercial spent fuel, ending our history of co-mingling these very different waste streams, something that has led to many intractable problems and the huge costs at Yucca Mountain.

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Source: James Conca | Forbes | April 30, 2013