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Reed, Higgins Amendment to Clean up Nuclear Waste at West Valley Passes House

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Washington, DC, July 9, 2014 | comments

The bipartisan amendment introduced by Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Brian Higgins (D-NY) aimed at making sure resources are accessible for communities to continue nuclear waste cleanup on schedule passed the House Wednesday evening. The Reed-Higgins amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations Act would help increase federal support for cleanup at sites like West Valley in Cattaraugus County.

“We’re making the push in Washington again to care for our communities at home and protect them from public safety and environmental hazards that will end up costing taxpayers more money the longer the cleanup process is dragged out,” Reed said. “West Valley deserves a fair level of support that gives taxpayers a tangible return on their investment instead of letting more tax dollars disappear into DC bureaucracy.”

“Delays in the West Valley site cleanup only raise economic and environmental costs over the long term,” said Congressman Higgins. “I am pleased to once again stand with my colleague, Congressman Reed, to introduce this bipartisan amendment that protects our environment and prevents dangerous waste from devastating the Great Lakes.”

The House is set to consider the full Energy and Water Appropriations Act Thursday this week. The bill provides annual funding for programs under the Department of Energy and related agencies, including funding for nuclear cleanup at the West Valley site. Without the Reed-Higgins amendment, West Valley is slated to receive $4 million less than last year’s level. Their amendment would work to boost support back up to last year’s level so that site cleanup can continue on schedule. 

Reps. Reed and Higgins successfully fought behind the scenes in years past for fair funding for nuclear cleanup at West Valley, introducing bipartisan amendments together and pushing Congress to improve nuclear waste cleanup efforts. “When you have something as common sense as cleaning up nuclear waste, it doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on or who gets the credit, it matters that the job gets done,” Reed said.

The West Valley site was established in the 1960s in response to a federal call for efforts to commercialize the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from power reactors.  While the site was in operation, approximately 640 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel was reprocessed. Reprocessing operations were halted between 1972 and 1976 to support facility modifications, but operations never resumed. The U.S. Department of Energy became responsible for the site through the West Valley Demonstration Project Act of 1980, legislation requiring the Department to solidify the high-level waste and dispose of it.

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