Nuclear Waste Legislation Including Matsui Consolidated Interim Storage Provision Passes House

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Washington, May 10, 2018 | comments

Washington, D.C. – Today, the bipartisan Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018, H.R. 3053, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 340-72.

The legislation included a bipartisan provision led by Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06) that provides a legislative framework for the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel. The provision creates a path forward for decommissioned plants to move their waste to a consolidated interim storage facility to be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Initially, H.R. 3053 directly linked the licensing of consolidated interim storage to the final decision on whether to construct a permanent geologic repository at Yucca Mountain. Congresswoman Matsui’s language decouples interim storage from the repository.

“Keeping our nation’s nuclear waste stranded at decommissioned plants is not sustainable,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “That’s why it is so important that we were able to work together in a bipartisan manner to create a path forward for local utilities, like SMUD in Sacramento, to move waste to a consolidated interim storage facility.”

“Removing the spent nuclear fuel at our permanently shut-down Rancho Seco site is a federal responsibility, and it has been one of SMUD’s top legislative priorities,” said SMUD CEO and General Manager Arlen Orchard. “Not only will this legislation save our customers money, it will also allow us to restore the site to a beneficial use, such as expanding our nearby solar array or pursuing other renewable energy projects.  We’re incredibly grateful that Rep. Matsui has led the charge to move this waste safely and as expeditiously as possible.”

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) – Sacramento’s public utility – stores spent nuclear fuel at the site of Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station, which SMUD operated until 1989.  SMUD spends approximately $5 million annually maintaining the spent fuel, but the federal government has a statutory responsibility to store the material. Matsui’s provision in the legislation that passed the House today would, if enacted and exercised by the Secretary, provide a path to move spent nuclear fuel and lead to the elimination of these costs. Currently, SMUD must periodically recover federal funding through lawsuits to reimburse its storage costs.

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