Wilson introduces new legislation to block DOE from constructing new facilities until Yucca Mountain decision

January 11, 2017 GMT

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., introduced new legislation on Wednesday that intends to block any new defense nuclear waste disposal facilities while the fate of Yucca Mountain in Nevada remains uncertain, all while emphasizing the need for a pathway out of South Carolina for high-level nuclear waste.

The legislation is called the Sensible Nuclear Waste Disposition Act.

Yucca Mountain was approved as the U.S. site for high-level nuclear waste in 2002 and was under construction until 2011. Funding was cut by an amendment to a Department of Defense appropriations bill, shuttering the project.

The U.S. Department of Energy published in December 2016 a new plan to establish a new repository through a “consent-based” approach. That plan is forecast to take many years to designate a new site and requires the input and consent of communities near the potential sites.

“Now, in the twilight of the Obama presidency, the Administration is trying to abandon Yucca Mountain and find a new repository for nuclear waste — leaving communities across the United States, including the Aiken-Barnwell community in the Second District, to bear the burden of storing nuclear waste that the federal government has promised to remove, while perpetuating a possible threat to communities nationwide,” Wilston said in a statement to media.

Wilson categorized Yucca Mountain as expensive and important to South Carolina residents.

“South Carolina ratepayers have invested over $1.3 billion into Yucca over the last 30 years — that’s in addition to the billions other taxpayers have put into Yucca. Starting over with another project would cost billions from taxpayers and South Carolina ratepayers and would take decades to complete,” he said.

Wilson continued, “Meanwhile, South Carolina would remain a de facto repository for nuclear waste. The federal government should finish what they started—or, at the very least—should make an official decision on Yucca before wasting billions of dollars on a duplicative facility.”

Wilson and other lawmakers have consistently called on the Energy Department to finish projects that would expedite removal of nuclear material from the Palmetto State.

This story will be updated.