That's how fast the money pours in to the nation's Nuclear Waste Disposal Fund, one mill at a time. And the money is attracting attention, especially during this election year, with Congress running out of time before its planned August recess.
"Today has been extremely rich in terms of rumors," said Mike McCarthy, administrator of the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition, when I talked with him on June 28.
"The leadership in the House and Senate have met. People seem to be adjusting their schedules. We understand that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) would prefer to move forward during the window of July 12-16."
And then again, nothing may happen.
Nuclear waste is everybody's headache, from Hazel O'Leary to Homer Simpson. Of course, utilities with nuclear plants have no choice. The 1992 Nuclear Waste Policy Act forces them to sign contracts with the Department of Energy (DOE) and makes their nuclear operating licenses conditional upon contributions paid in to the Fund. However, DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management must identify, evaluate, construct, and operate a permanent repository for nuclear waste, designated at Yucca Mountain, NV, by a 1987 congressional amendment.
But in May 1994 DOE suffered a change of heart. It sheepishly asked for comments on whether it need comply with the law. The other shoe dropped a year later when DOE abandoned its obligation to accept spent nuclear fuel and said it wouldn't even provide interim storage. (60 Fed. Reg. 21793, May 3, 1995).