Wyden open to moving nuclear waste to interim storage sites

In a bill he introduced late this session, Bingaman insisted an application for a permanent waste storage site be on file as a condition for using interim facilities. That was at odds with Sens. Murkowski, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dillon said.

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Those senators had been working with Bingaman on a bill to implement recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. President Obama formed the commission in 2009 to evaluate the nation’s handling of nuclear waste.

Dillon explained requiring a permanent site first was a non-starter. He said the permitting process could become embroiled in a political fight that lasts decades, pointing to the long controversy over Yucca Mountain repository as an example.

The Obama administration has abandoned long-planned — and long-delayed — federal efforts to open a nuclear waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

Bingaman, however, has defended his stance, saying that he is concerned that interim sites would become de facto permanent repositories for nuclear waste. 

For her part, Murkowski said Sunday in an interview with Platts Energy Week that she hopes when Wyden steps into Bingaman’s spot, he will work with her, Feinstein and Alexander on nuclear issues.

Wyden might have more incentive to push ahead with a nuclear waste bill than Bingaman.

Wyden’s office said he wants to explore separating military spent fuel from civilian. A chunk of that military waste is stored in creaky containers at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington, just across the border from Oregon.

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