Bipartisan bill would prohibit American funds to be spent on nuclear fuel storage

A pair of bipartisan U.S. senators from New Mexico and Texas proposed new legislation on Wednesday that looks to impact efforts by private companies to build temporary storage facilities for the purpose of housing spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the country.

The legislation comes as the federal government has not yet identified a permanent solution for the storage of radioactive material.

Democrat Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Republican Ted Cruz of Texas were the two to introduce the bill to prohibit federal funding from being appropriated to initiatives that carry out any activities at private interim storage sites.

Federal regulators, though, already granted one license for a facility and West Texas as New Jersey-based Holtec International is looking for approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to construct a different multibillion-dollar facility in southeastern New Mexico near the state line. 

Heinrich, as well as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott among others have spoken up about their opposition to the interim storage, noting their states would become permanent dumping grounds if the practice is allowed to continue. “That is not something my state is signed up for,” said Heinrich in a statement.

Cruz added that while nuclear power is a reliable way to meet energy demands, several Texas communities have deep concerns over what the storage sites would mean for them.

Until a permanent repository is constructed, the federal government will still be responsible for the costs garnered by the owners of commercial reactors for housing the spent fuel at sites across the U.S. Estimates of that liability conducted by independent federal auditors show the price tag at more than $30 billion.




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