Zorn resolution urges permanent solution for nuclear waste

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn on Tuesday introduced a resolution calling for federal action on a solution for safe storage or reuse of spent nuclear fuel.

“The federal government continues to skirt its obligations to the American people to open a permanent storage site for spent nuclear fuel — which means the waste will continue to be stored at more than 80 temporary sites around the country, including here in Monroe County,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Nuclear power continues to be a significant source of energy in Michigan and the U.S., and the federal government’s inaction to safely store the spent fuel in a long-term facility continues to put the safety of our local communities at risk.

“This is especially true for everyone in the Great Lakes basin who relies on the world’s largest collection of fresh water.”

Senate Concurrent Resolution 19 urges the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to fulfill their obligation to establish a permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste.

The federal Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 called for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to begin collecting spent nuclear waste and develop a long-term plan for storage of the material. In 2002, Congress approved Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the site of a safe nuclear waste repository, but the DOE halted the project in 2010 despite the Nuclear Waste Fund receiving billions of dollars in revenue from electric customers throughout the country in order to construct the facility and store the spent fuel.

“With this resolution, Michigan would — once again — call on our federal government to do its job and open a permanent storage facility for the over 90,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel currently stored at temporary sites around the country, including locations in Michigan,” Zorn said.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nuclear power provided about 20% of the electricity produced in the U.S. in 2019, and Michigan’s three nuclear power plants provided 26% of the electricity generated in Michigan.

SCR 19 has been referred to the Senate Energy and Technology Committee for consideration.