Yucca Mountain site override up for Senate floor vote

June 5, 2002 — The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has voted to put the Yucca Mountain site issue to a Senate vote.

The U.S. House has already overridden Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn’s veto of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste plan. The Senate must also override Guinn’s veto for the project to proceed.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 13-10 to get the vote to the Senate floor regarding the administration’s plans use the site near Las Vegas as a high-level nuclear waste repository, Dow Jones reported.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act called for development of an underground storage facility for 70,000 metric tons of spent fuel from nuclear power plants and waste from the military’s nuclear weapons program.

Gov. Guinn’s veto sets a process in motion requiring Congress to act by July 25 to override it – If the Senate does not achieve the override by then, the project will be scrapped.

Under a procedure in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the measure is automatically moved to the Senate’s legislative calendar, and any senator can make a motion to bring the matter up for a vote. Ten hours of debate will be allowed before the final vote with no possibility of filibuster.

Only a simple majority vote in the Senate is required to override Nevada ‘s veto.

If the override is successful, the Department of Energy can file a license application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

If the commission issues a license, the earliest the site could begin accepting nuclear waste is 2010.

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