Issa, Walters applaud committee approval of nuclear waste storage solution

The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation on Wednesday that would pave the way for a permanent nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain to proceed, as well as an interim storage solution.

U.S. Reps. Darrell Issa and Mimi Walters, both Republicans of California, spoke in support of the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, H.R. 3053, which would allow for the transfer of nuclear waste from the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (SONGS) away from the community.

“The move (on Wednesday) makes clear that the last 30 years of obstruction over any and every plan to get nuclear waste out of our communities is over,” Issa said. “For years, I have been fighting to ensure the federal government upholds its end of the deal and takes the nuclear waste from SONGS and places it into the safe storage site the ratepayers are owed and have paid for. Today, I’m glad to see these hard-fought efforts are beginning to pay off.”

H.R. 3053, which U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) introduced, would allow the Department of Energy to advance plans for a permanent nuclear waste storage site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, and plans for an interim storage site for nuclear waste from SONGS and other closed facilities.

“The compromise language agreed to today will ensure not only that the long-term, permanent storage site at Yucca finally gets completed, but also ensures that temporary sites will be opened so that waste from facilities like SONGS in my district can be moved out of our backyard as soon as possible,” Issa said.

Walters testified during the hearing that the federal government owes it to Southern California residents to fulfill its obligation to take ownership of the 1,800 tons of spent nuclear fuel currently being stored at SONGS.

“It’s important to get the process right so we can move forward concurrently on an interim storage program and a permanent repository,” Walters said.

Ratepayers have contributed more than $40 billion over 35 years to the Nuclear Waste Fund, Walters noted, with California ratepayers alone having contributed over $2 billion to the fund. The monies paid into the Nuclear Waste Fund were designed to support work to establish a permanent nuclear waste repository.

“The status quo isn’t working,” she said. “This bill recognizes that and puts forth solutions to address the need for interim and permanent storage.”