(House of Representatives - October 13, 2011)

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[Pages H6862-H6863]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                              {time}  1020
                             YUCCA MOUNTAIN

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Shimkus) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I come to the floor a second time, as I 
promised a couple of weeks ago, to talk about high-level nuclear waste 
in the Yucca Mountain repository.
  Two weeks ago I highlighted Hanford, Washington, a DOE site that has 
53 million gallons of nuclear waste--53 million gallons of nuclear 
waste that's stored 10 feet underground in tanks that are leaking. The 
waste is 250 feet above the water table and the waste is 1 mile from 
the Columbia River, versus Federal law which said in 1982 that Yucca 
Mountain should be our national repository.
  Now let's look at Yucca Mountain. Right now there's no nuclear waste 
on site. The waste would be stored a thousand feet underground. The 
waste is a thousand feet above the water table, and the waste would be 
100 miles from the Colorado River; 100 miles versus 1 mile, high-level 
nuclear waste, especially with Hanford where you have nuclear waste 
that actually is leaking outside the tanks.
  So then my response was: What are the Senators in these two States 
doing and what's their position? The reason why we're not moving to 
Yucca Mountain is because of one U.S. Senator, the majority leader of 
the Senate, Harry Reid, who has blocked the movement of Yucca Mountain.
  Obviously, these Senators have an interest because of the Columbia 
River, and I was trying to encourage them, through the use of the bully 
pulpit, that this was a time to move to get this resolution resolved, 
especially after Fukushima Daiichi, everybody following the tragedy in 
Japan, and part of that was high-level nuclear waste in storage ponds 
right on site.
  Since then, I have been able to get a few quotes from these Senators, 
or researched them. Senator Cantwell said: ``The National Academy of 
Sciences has concluded that the best approach is to bury nuclear waste 
deep underground. Since that conclusion, Yucca Mountain in Nevada has 
been chosen as the national repository.''
  Senator Murray said this: ``I believe that it is irresponsible for 
the Department of Energy to discontinue the

[[Page H6863]]

Yucca program altogether, its funding, licensing and design.''
  Senator Wyden has said: ``I don't see that (Yucca Mountain will 
reopen). I think that there'll be an effort to look at new technologies 
and on-site storage and a whole host of approaches, but I don't think 
that's going to happen.''
  So Senator Wyden is accepting this in Hanford, a mile from the 
Columbia River.
  Senator Merkley has been quiet, as far as we could find from the 
Google search pairing his name and any Yucca Mountain comments.
  Now, lest people think I'm picking on the Northwest, let me go to my 
home State of Illinois. So one facility, Zion Nuclear Power Station, 
it's a decommissioned plant but there's still 65 casks containing 1,135 
metric tons of nuclear waste, versus Yucca Mountain, which has zero.
  The waste at Zion is stored above the ground; the waste at Yucca 
Mountain would be a thousand feet below the surface. The waste at Zion 
is 5 feet above the water table; the waste at Yucca Mountain would be a 
thousand feet. The waste at Yucca Mountain is 100 miles from the 
Colorado River; the waste from Zion is 1,300 feet from Lake Michigan.
  I mean, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that Yucca 
Mountain is safer than storing high-level nuclear waste next to Lake 
  So what have our Senators said?
  Well, let's start with Senator Durbin. He's quoted as saying: ``There 
are a lot of options out there. But I have supported Yucca in the past, 
and I am not walking away from that. I just think we need to consider 
other options as well.''
  I want him to obviously continue to consider Yucca Mountain.
  Senator Kirk has said: ``I think in the end Congress needs to fight 
and win the battle to build the Yucca Mountain facility so that we can 
store nuclear waste 1,000 feet below the surface.''
  I agree.
  Senator Kohl is quoted as saying: ``This site, on the Nevada nuclear 
test site''--that's what people don't know is that Yucca Mountain is 
also the Nevada nuclear test site. That's where we tested the nuclear 
bombs during the nuclear arms race and the nuclear age. So Senator Kohl 
is correct in saying: ``This site, on the Nevada nuclear test site, is 
certainly safer than leaving the waste at 132 sites nationwide, sites 
scattered around the country that were never designed to be a permanent 
  Senator Johnson is silent.