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Lawmakers weigh nuclear storage options
Lawmakers weigh nuclear storage options
Legislators took no action on a plan to store spent nuclear fuel rods within Wyoming – and heard about a possible alternative use of the rods – during a committee meeting Tuesday in Casper.
Legislators took no action on a plan to store spent nuclear fuel rods within Wyoming – and heard about a possible alternative use of the rods – during a committee meeting Tuesday in Casper.

Discussion of the plan was spurred by a bill that would have authorized the governor to negotiate with the U.S. Department of Energy over the storage. But Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, pulled the bill during the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee’s meeting.

“I found out that we really don’t need to give the governor’s office the authority to discuss this with the DOE – that they have the authority to do that right now,” said Anderson, who co-chairs the committee.

Though the legislative go-ahead was unnecessary, Anderson said he was unaware of any current or upcoming negotiations between Gov. Mark Gordon and the Department of Energy.

Michael Pearlman, spokesman for the governor’s office, said there have been no talks between Gordon and the department. There is no time frame for the governor to make a decision on how to proceed, Pearlman said.

Last week, Gordon said he would wait to see the committee’s findings before making any decision.

“I don’t think it’s the best industry for Wyoming,” Gordon told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “But I would say this emphatically: If there is a good reason to do it, and we have adequate safeguards, though personally I may not feel it’s the best industry for Wyoming, I’m not going to stand in its way.”

Anderson said the state began exploring the possibility due to the budget crisis facing the state over the next few years.

“Our burn rate on our savings is pretty high,” Anderson said. “If we don’t bring in some more revenue to the state – and more revenue, I mean, is like half a billion to a billion dollars – then we’re going to have to start cutting K-12 education.”

During a public comment period for the plan, several people spoke against the proposal, which Anderson said could bring more than 100 million pounds of nuclear waste to the state. Colleen Whalen, spokeswoman for Wyoming Against Nuclear Dumps, said she worried about safety risks associated with transporting the casks.

“After a year out of the reactor, the waste is deadly in seven seconds,” Whalen said. “Should the cask be breached, seven seconds (and) you’re dead.”

Anderson, while presenting the findings of a spent fuel rods subcommittee, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ensured the group of the precautions taken during transportation and storage of the spent fuel rods.

“The NRC is very proud of the safety records over the last 35 years,” Anderson said. “It goes back farther than that, but there was a learning curve in the first 10 or 15 years of their existence. There have been no storage or transportation accidents in all that 35 years.”
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Lawmakers weigh nuclear storage options
Lawmakers weigh nuclear storage options
Legislators took no action on a plan to store spent nuclear fuel rods within Wyoming – and heard about a possible alternative use of the rods – during a committee meeting Tuesday in Casper.
Legislators took no action on a plan to store spent nuclear fuel rods within Wyoming – and heard about a possible alternative use of the rods – during a committee meeting Tuesday in Casper. Discussion of the plan was spurred by a bill that would have authorized the governor to negotiate with the U.S. Department of Energy over the storage. But Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, pulled the bill during the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee’s meeting. “I found out that we really don’t need to give the governor’s office the authority to discuss this with the DOE – that they have the authority to do that right now,” said Anderson, who co-chairs the committee. Though the legislative go-ahead was unnecessary, Anderson said he was unaware of any current or upcoming negotiations between Gov. Mark Gordon and the Department of Energy. Michael Pearlman, spokesman for the governor’s office, said there have been no talks between Gordon and the department. There is no time frame for the governor to make a decision on how to proceed, Pearlman said. Last week, Gordon said he would wait to see the committee’s findings before making any decision. “I don’t think it’s the best industry for Wyoming,” Gordon told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “But I would say this emphatically: If there is a good reason to do it, and we have adequate safeguards, though personally I may not feel it’s the best industry for Wyoming, I’m not going to stand in its way.” Anderson said the state began exploring the possibility due to the budget crisis facing the state over the next few years. “Our burn rate on our savings is pretty high,” Anderson said. “If we don’t bring in some more revenue to the state – and more revenue, I mean, is like half a billion to a billion dollars – then we’re going to have to start cutting K-12 education.” During a public comment period for the plan, several people spoke against the proposal, which Anderson said could bring more than 100 million pounds of nuclear waste to the state. Colleen Whalen, spokeswoman for Wyoming Against Nuclear Dumps, said she worried about safety risks associated with transporting the casks. “After a year out of the reactor, the waste is deadly in seven seconds,” Whalen said. “Should the cask be breached, seven seconds (and) you’re dead.” Anderson, while presenting the findings of a spent fuel rods subcommittee, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ensured the group of the precautions taken during transportation and storage of the spent fuel rods. “The NRC is very proud of the safety records over the last 35 years,” Anderson said. “It goes back farther than that, but there was a learning curve in the first 10 or 15 years of their existence. There have been no storage or transportation accidents in all that 35 years.”



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