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Senate Panel Advances Bill for Temporary Nuclear Storage Sites

April 24 (Bloomberg) -- A Senate committee proposed letting U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu begin the process to build temporary storage sites for nuclear waste in communities that seek such a facility.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said the provision in the legislation adopted the “consent-based” recommendation of a presidential commission that studied the disposal of used fuel rods now stored at 104 U.S. nuclear plants. The measure is “one small step forward,” she said.

“It’s imperative to begin to address the issue of spent nuclear fuel,” Feinstein said today at a hearing on energy and water development spending starting Oct. 1.

The measure approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee panel on energy creates a program to license, build and operate one or more “consolidated storage facilities,” Feinstein said.

Obama set up the nuclear-waste commission in January 2010, after eliminating funding for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada, to weigh options for waste from nuclear facilities. The administration abandoned the repository, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas, after opposition in the state led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.

Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, said Congress would have to approve plans for any interim storage site.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is writing legislation to implement additional recommendations from the commission, Rosemarie Calabro, a Democratic spokeswoman for the panel, said in an e-mail. The commission issued its report and recommendations on Jan. 26

The spending bill approved April 18 by a House Appropriations energy panel would give $25 million to continue development of Yucca Mountain. The Senate bills would provide more money for clean-energy projects, while the House measure increases fossil-fuel programs.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Snyder in Washington at jsnyder24@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

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