Morning Briefing - April 02, 2019
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April 02, 2019

Nevada Lawmakers Call on House Appropriators to Block Yucca Mountain, Plutonium

By ExchangeMonitor

Democratic members of Nevada’s congressional delegation on Monday called on key House appropriators to prevent the federal government from moving forward with the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository or shipping any more plutonium to the state.

Nevada’s leaders have for decades fought the U.S. government’s effort to make their state home to the nation’s stockpile of spent nuclear reactor fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The legal and legislative battle over the surplus plutonium is far more recent.

Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee, and Steven Horsford (all D-Nev.) on Monday sent letters to House Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee Chair Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Ranking Member Mike Simpson (R-Idaho). The letters “advocate for the inclusion of specific language in the subcommittee’s upcoming FY 2020 appropriations bill that would prevent the federal government from moving forward with storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain and block further shipments of plutonium from South Carolina to the Nevada National Security Site,” according to a press release from Titus.

The energy and water subcommittee writes the House’s first draft of the appropriations bill covering the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, respectively the applicant and adjudicator for the Yucca Mountain license. The Energy Department’s semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration is managing shipment of 1 metric ton of plutonium from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) and Pantex Plant in Texas.

In the fiscal 2020 budget plan issued last month, the Trump administration requested roughly $116 million for DOE and $38.5 million for the NRC to resume licensing the radioactive waste disposal site.

In January, the NNSA said it had shipped half a metric ton of plutonium to NNSS’ Device Assembly Facility by November 2018. The rest of the 1 metric ton is due to be shipped to Pantex. Nevada has sued in federal court to prevent any further shipments to the state.