Senate moves toward final Yucca Mountain vote

July 9, 2002 — The U.S. Senate on Tuesday moved toward a final vote to override Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn’s veto and proceed with the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage project.

A vote was expected by 6 p.m. EDT Tuesday to build the country’s first permanent nuclear waste storage site 90 miles from Las Vegas, Reuters Market News reported.

Sen. Frank Murkowski of Alaska made use of a special procedure provided for in the Nuclear Waste Repository Act, which supercedes the normal authority of Senate majority leader Tom Daschle to make a motion to proceed to a piece of legislation. Following Murkowski’s action, the Senate limited debate to 4 1/2 hours.

The Senate override would allow the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to license the project, which could begin accepting waste in 2010. The project is designed to hold a maximum of 77,000 tons of highly radioactive waste from the nation’s power plants and other sources.

Nuclear generating facilities currently provide more than 20 percent of the country’s electricity. These facilities’ spent fuel is being stored at 131 sites, many of which are nearly full.

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