Clinton administration repeated its threat to veto controversial legislation
establishing a permanent disposal site for radioactive waste produced by nuclear
legislation, sponsored by Senate Energy Committee chairman and Alaskan
Republican Frank Murkowski, would build a permanent disposal site in the Nevada
mountains by the end of the decade to store some 40,000 metric tons of highly
radioactive waste currently store at 103 commercial nuclear power plants
the permanent depository is built inside Yucca Mountain, the legislation would
allow the nuclear waste to temporarily be stored above ground at the site.
Energy Department will issue a recommendation to the White House by 2001 on
whether Yucca Mountain should be the permanent home for the waste. The
administration estimates the legislation would cost approximately $1.2 billion
through 2005. The legislation would give the Energy Department title to
radioactive waste held by utilities.
Clinton administration opposes the current legislation because it authorizes the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), instead of the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), to set maximum radiation standards for a permanent waste site. EPA
in August proposed radiation limits that were much lower than those favored by
oppose storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, claiming the depository would
lie on a earthquake fault line and radioactive material would find its way into
underground water at the site, leading to the contamination of drinking water.