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Bipartisan Group Plans Overhaul For Radioactive Waste Disposal

Department of Energy. File photo of Yucca Mountain

RICHLAND, Wash. - A bipartisan group of senior senators is drafting a bill to overhaul the U.S. nuclear-waste program. The group, which includes Oregon’s Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, is aiming to find a permanent home for the nation’s radioactive waste.

Wyden is the new chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The radioactive waste working group also includes Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. They’re all high-ranking members of both parties who hold key positions on committees that deal with energy issues. They hope to draft legislation that would find a temporary and a long-term repository for the storage of the nation’s hazardous nuclear waste.

According to a spokesman, Wyden doesn’t favor reviving Nevada’s Yucca Mountain -- the massive and politically-wrought project scrapped by the Obama administration. Keith Chu, with Wyden’s office, says the senator opposes any Department of Energy nuclear reservation – such as Hanford in southeast Washington – becoming a permanent waste disposal site.

Wyden plans to pen a draft bill within a month.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.