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Dodging Suits and Pols, DOE Digs In on Nuclear Waste

Fortnightly Magazine - March 1 1997

few hundred metric tons of spent fuel each year. "This is about 10 to 15 percent of the commercial spent fuel generated annually."

(The independent board was created as part of 1987 amendments to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Cohon was appointed to head the board by President Clinton.)

Susan F. Clark of the Florida Public Service Commission, another witness, noted that ratepayers are paying for waste disposal twice (em now, and whenever the waste will be taken to an interim storage site. Murkowski said at-reactor storage costs $7.7 billion more than if one central facility were used.

Despite the apparent impasse of the Senate panel debate, senators in the majority appear to have grown tired of hearings, year after year. Indications are that the bill may move to markup this month.

"We can no longer pass 'Go,'" said Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho). "And this administration needs to be a player." (em JS t

S. 104's Catch-22

S. 104 contains bipartisan language drafted to address the Administration's objections to siting an interim facility at the Nevada Test Site before the permanent Yucca Mountain site is termed "viable." That means construction on an interim site wouldn't begin before Dec. 31, 1998. The bill gives the president and Congress six months to consider the viability assessment before construction could begin on the interim site. If the president decided Yucca wasn't suitable, then work stops on both interim and permanent sites at Yucca. If the president makes that decision, he'll have 18 months to pick his own site. If he fails to do so, or the site he picks isn't approved by Congress within two years, the interim site gets built at Yucca.

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