Weapons Complex Monitor Vol. 34 No. 11
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Article 3 of 11
March 17, 2023

Uranium cleanup fund would get big DOE Environmental Management infusion again in fiscal 2024

By Wayne Barber

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management would, after helping prop up the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund again in fiscal 2024, effectively stay flat at $8.3 billion, according to White House budget request details released this week.

The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee has scheduled a hearing on the DOE spending request next Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Defense Environmental Cleanup, the largest tranche of the nuclear cleanup budget, would be relatively flat at $7.07 billion, about on par with the prior year’s $7.03 billion.

Non-Defense Cleanup would be $352 million under President Joe Biden’s request, down from $362 million, in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Thanks to a requested $427 million Environmental Management infusion, the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund would be $857 million under the Biden plan, down from the $879 million Congress approved for the fund for fiscal 2023.

The $879 million uranium cleanup figure in the current fiscal year was obtained after $586 million was shifted over from Environmental Management, according to White House fiscal 2024 budget request justification details released this week.

The top line for the cleanup office, responsible for remediating nuclear contamination at 15 Cold War and Manhattan Project sites, starts off at $8.7 billion, according to the budget justification document. But $427 million would be funneled into the fund for cleanup of uranium enrichment sites in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. That’s a similar situation to fiscal 2023, when Environmental Management transferred $586 million of an initial $8.8 billion pie into the uranium cleanup fund.

For several years now, first under the Donald Trump administration, DOE has turned to backup sources of funding for the account used to remediate old gaseous diffusion plants. The feds have tapped into Environmental Management dollars to help bolster declining balances at the  uranium cleanup fund, which the Government Accountability Office reported in 2019 was running out of revenue

Federal authorization to collect fees from electric utility companies for deposit into the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund expired in 2007, according to the Congressional Research Service. Congress in 2016 rejected a White House plan to impose new fees on the utilities. 

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