Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth) was joined by many of his colleagues on the South Shore and Cape Cod in writing a letter to President Trump in support of the recently released “Budget Blueprint” that creates $120 million in funding to restart the licensing process for Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository in Nevada.
Senator deMacedo had originally reached out to his colleagues in the federal and state delegations to join him in encouraging the adoption of this funding which will create a permanent home for the spent nuclear fuel that currently sits in dry-cask storage at Pilgrim Nuclear power Station in Plymouth. “I want to thank my colleagues for joining me in this bi-partisan effort to remind the federal government of its obligations regarding the spent nuclear fuel that is currently stored here in Plymouth,” said Senator deMacedo.
In addition to Senator deMacedo, the letter was signed by Senators Julian Cyr (D-Truro) and Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth) as well as Representatives Tom Calter (D-Kingston), James Cantwell (D-Marshfield), William Crocker (R-Barnstable), Mathew Muratore (R-Plymouth), Sarah Peake (D–Provincetown), David Vieira (R-Falmouth), and Timothy Whelan (R-Brewster).
Since it began operation in 1972, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth has used more than 3,200 fuel assemblies. This far exceeds the number that can safely be housed in the spent fuel pool at the plant. Therefore Pilgrim has begun moving spent fuel assemblies into dry-cask storage. These casks are stored on a pad near the facility and will be stored there even after the plant is decommissioned unless the federal Department of Energy takes ownership of them. According to the provisions of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, this transfer of ownership was due to take place in 1998 but never went forward because of the lack of a federal nuclear waste repository.
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 created a mechanism by which nuclear plant operators would pay by the kWh for the construction of a centralized federal repository for spent nuclear fuel. In 1987, Yucca Mountain was identified as the location for this repository and construction was begun. While substantial construction was completed, the Obama Administration removed Yucca Mountain as an option in 2009. Despite this, Yucca Mountain remains the most feasible and immediately accessible site for the long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel. President Trump’s budget proposal would provide the necessary funding for continuing the process of preparing Yucca Mountain for full operation.