Legislature OKs Proos’ resolution urging safe nuclear waste storage

Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2016

LANSING — The Michigan House of Representatives recently approved resolutions, introduced by Sens. John Proos and Dale Zorn, calling for the completion of federal facilities for safe storage of spent nuclear fuel or a refund of billions of dollars to ratepayers. The concurrent resolution had previously been approved by the Senate.

“Much of the nation’s power is provided by safe and reliable nuclear energy,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “American nuclear power can be a key component in meeting our current and future energy demands and create good jobs. However, storage for spent fuel is becoming a problem due to federal inaction.

“The federal government needs to live up to its responsibility to open a permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste or return the money they collected from ratepayers to build the site.”

Senate Concurrent Resolution 6 calls on Congress to appropriate from the Nuclear Waste Fund the money necessary to establish a permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste or reimburse electric utility customers who paid into the fund if a permanent repository is not completed.

The fund’s balance is more than $41 billion and increases by about $750 million in direct payments each year.

In 1982, Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act requiring the federal government to follow a strict timeline for building a permanent repository for high-level radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants. According to the act, the repository should have started accepting waste by 1998.

In 2002, President Bush and Congress approved Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the site of a safe nuclear waste repository for the U.S.

“Michigan customers have paid more than $810 million for the construction of a permanent storage site, yet more than 30 years later and we continue to store waste at temporary pools at our nuclear plants, which are at or near capacity,” Proos said. “With a united voice, the Michigan Legislature is calling on the federal government to either fulfill its obligation to open the long-term facility or return the money to hardworking Michigan families.”

SCR 8 urges the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to fulfill their obligation to establish a permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste.