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February 1, 2012 

UCS Physicist to Testify Today Before House Subcommittee on Nuclear Waste Blue Ribbon Commission Report

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy is hosting a hearing on Wednesday, February 1, on the final report from the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. The report recommends ways to improve the U.S. nuclear waste program, including the need for a permanent waste disposal site. The hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. It will be streamed live on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website.

A complete witness list is available here. The second panel will feature Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Senior Scientist Edwin Lyman. His written testimony will be available on the UCS website on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Lyman will commend the commission for rejecting calls for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, which UCS has long opposed “because it produces plutonium and other materials that could be used in nuclear weapons, greatly increasing the risks of nuclear terrorism and proliferation, yet provides no benefits for radioactive waste management.  In contrast,” Lyman points out,  “reprocessing actually worsens the radioactive waste disposal problem.”

But Lyman disagrees with the commission’s endorsement of establishing interim spent fuel storage sites. “The argument for consolidating spent fuel from shutdown reactors is more compelling than for fuel from operating reactors,” Lyman concedes, “but UCS has yet to see an analysis clearly demonstrating that the benefits of interim storage outweigh the additional costs and risks associated with siting and licensing new storage facilities and the additional transportation that would be required—even for spent fuel from shutdown reactors.” He believes it is more important to find a site for a permanent, underground geologic repository, and that efforts to site interim storage sites would distract from that goal.

 

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

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