Words from Washington

Decision on Yucca Mountain should not be held hostage by politics

More than 20 years ago, Congress designated a remote location in Nevada, Yucca Mountain, as the location for the safe and secure storage of our nation's spent nuclear fuel and high level nuclear defense wastes. These wastes were created by our nation's World War II and Cold War era nuclear weapons production program and are currently at nuclear clean-up sites in several states, including the Hanford site in Central Washington.

Decades were spent studying potential locations for a national repository - and Yucca Mountain was determined to be the best solution. The Obama Administration, however, has taken several steps, without the consent of Congress, to terminate all operations and construction at Yucca Mountain.

The good news is that the state of Washington, the state of South Carolina and Central Washington leaders have filed suit in the D.C. Circuit Court challenging the Department of Energy's ability to withdraw the Yucca Mountain license application. And a bipartisan coalition of Congressional leaders have kept pressure on the Administration to stop their unapproved activities at every step in the process.

However, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has acted unilaterally to shut down the ongoing review of the Yucca Mountain application - against Congressional intent. This unprecedented, bureaucratic overreach has been questioned by Congress and former and current members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

This issue is vitally important to Central Washington, as Hanford is currently a de facto storage facility for spent nuclear waste. And, a massive $12 billion project is underway to build a plant that will treat this waste and turn it into safe, stable glass logs that are scheduled to be stored at Yucca Mountain. The plant is being built to meet specifications designed to match the geologic and structural make-up of Yucca Mountain. If Administration bureaucrats are allowed to ignore Congress and unilaterally shut down this project, billions of taxpayer funds will be wasted.

At a time of record debt, massive bailouts and trillion dollar deficits, our nation cannot afford to waste billions to satisfy the political wishes of one Nevada senator. I will continue my efforts to have the Administration follow the law and have Yucca Mountain ready to accept Hanford's nuclear waste.

- Congressman Doc Hastings

(R-Pasco) represents Central

Washington's Fourth

Congressional District.


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