The House Appropriations Committee appears ready to reject the Trump administration’s request to transfer a nuclear cleanup program from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Department of Energy.
In its spending legislation for fiscal 2020, released Tuesday, the panel’s energy and water development subcommittee proposed $155 million for the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) – and kept it firmly under the line item for the Army Corps.
A spokesman for energy and water development subcommittee Chair Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) confirmed the decision, but did not discuss the thinking behind it. More detail could be included in the full report for the spending legislation, which will be released at least 24 hours before the still-unscheduled markup of the bill by the full committee.
FUSRAP identifies, evaluates, and remediates sites that were radioactively contaminated from the 1940s to 1960s by nuclear-weapon and energy operations of the Manhattan Engineer District and Atomic Energy Commission. Congress previously shifted the program from the Energy Department to the Army Corps in a 1998 spending bill.
In the fiscal 2020 budget plan issued in March, the White House requested that the program receive $141 million under management of DOE’s Office of Legacy Management. That would be down from the current appropriation of $150 million.
The Energy Department already manages separate cleanup of 16 radioactively contaminated nuclear sites through its Office of Environmental Management. In March, the agency said “Consolidating cleanup programs under a single agency will allow DOE to consider the full range of cleanup responsibilities in prioritizing work each fiscal year.” While DOE would be the program manager under the proposal, the Army Corps would continue to handle operations on-site on a “reimbursable basis.”