The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act (H.R. 3053) that originated in the House Energy and Commerce Committee – where Greg Walden (R-Hood River) serves as chairman – passed the House by a strong bipartisan vote of 340-72 today.
In a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Walden said this legislation will be important for cleanup efforts at the Hanford Site, and communities across the country where nuclear waste sits idle.
“The Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, just up the mighty Columbia River from where I live and where I grew up, helped us win World War II and the site’s nuclear program was instrumental in projecting peace through strength throughout the Cold War. While the community has been a constructive partner in support of our vital national security missions, it did not agree to serve as a perpetual storage site for the resulting nuclear waste,” said Walden.
“56 millions of gallons of this toxic waste are sitting in decades-old metal tanks at Hanford,” he said. “The amount of waste stored at Hanford could fill the entire House Chamber 20 times. According to a recent GAO report, the oldest of these tanks, some of which date back to the 1940s, have single-layer walls, or shells; and were built to last about 20 years. They will be almost 100 years old by the estimated end of waste treatment. The Department of Energy has reported that 67 of these tanks are assumed or are known to have leaked waste into the soil. There is an understandable sense of urgency behind the cleanup efforts underway at Hanford.”
The legislation provides reforms to the nation’s nuclear waste management policy, and reinstates Yucca Mountain as the cornerstone of the country’s nuclear waste disposal. Walden said that moving forward with this legislation will have broad benefits for the country as a whole.