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March 10, 2023

King Declares Nuclear Waste Storage Scattered Across the Country the “Worst Solution”

Using Maine Yankee as an example, King asks for timeline of a centralized interim nuclear waste storage facilities

Washington, D.C.– In a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) questioned U.S. leaders and experts in the nuclear energy field about the need and timeline for centralized nuclear waste storage. Pointing to nuclear waste storage at the former Maine Yankee power plant, Senator King highlighted waste build-up as fundamental problem which needs to be addressed.

Senator King began by asking Kathryn Huff, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, about the need and timeline to consolidate nuclear waste sites.

“There are now 21 stranded nuclear waste sites in the country. One of them is in Maine, which is essentially a high-level nuclear waste site. And there are about 80 or 90 others that are operating nuclear plants. So, it's not as if to say, we don't have and we don't have nuclear waste storage. We've got it. It’s scattered all over the country, which is probably the worst solution. When, Ms. Huff, do you do you anticipate having an answer to a question that's been pending since the early 50s?” Senator King asked.

Huff responded, “Thank you for this question. It is certainly the case that having 76 locations of interim storage is significantly worse than consolidating and having one or two or just a couple of federal interim storage sites. We are excited to be actually making progress now, with the appropriations from Congress around consent-based sighting, we have released, closed, and are now reviewing applications for a funding opportunity announcement of $26 million that will be sent out to communities to explore their own interests and understanding of spent nuclear fuel interim storage.”

“So, there are places in the country that are at least interested in considering hosting one of these site. Is that correct?” Senator King asked in a follow up question.

“Yes,” Huff replied. “A couple of years.”

A couple of years, okay. You're on record as well,” Senator King concluded.

A forceful advocate for clean energy solutions, Senator King supports safe extensions of the operations of our nation’s existing nuclear reactor fleet, including through tax credits like those provided by the Zero-Emission Nuclear Power Product Credit Act which was signed into law as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. At the same time, he has pressed administration officials, including Secretary Granholm, to commit to developing solutions to deal responsibly with nuclear waste and has previously cosponsored the STRANDED Act which would help communities like Wiscasset offset the economic burden of storing spent nuclear fuel at decommissioned reactor sites.  



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