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At the outset let me say that it is, it is in the United States strategic interests to decrease the oversupply of weapons-grade plutonium in this country and Russia. Furthermore, I agree that it is important to maintain a partnership with Russia to encourage the destruction of their plutonium. However the process, the process that has been used to determine a route which the MOX fuel will take has been completely inappropriate and without

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congressional or public input. The DOE prepared an environmental assessment, an EA, on the project which was distributed to only 52 residents in the State of Michigan for comment, none of whom live near the two bridges where the material will be transported.

   Although DOE staff informed some congressional staff that more people were notified of the EA, they could provide no records of such input. The decision was made without a public hearing in Michigan. Even when the Michigan governor sought public hearing, DOE denied this request. None of the emergency response crews along the route have been notified of the shipment. One emergency response coordinator in my district stated there is no plutonium chapter in his disaster response manual.

   Who has the responsibility, the jurisdiction, the liability and evacuation authority in case there is a transportation accident? The EA examined seven routes to Canada that would be appropriate for the transportation of this material.

   DOE staff explained that the Canadian Government objected to two of the routes because they traveled through the golden triangle of heavily industrialized area in Canada. Canada objected to a third route due to concern that the police vehicle accompanying the fuel would not be allowed to transit an Indian reservation along the route. Canadians and the Canadian native tribes can object to the route, but U.S. citizens and Native American Indians cannot.

   I would point out that the proposed route will travel over three of the five Great Lakes, the world's largest supply of fresh water and one of our country's greatest natural resources. The proposed route would pass along a minimum of four Native American tribes in my district. The DOE's own environmental assessment ranks the Sault Ste. Marie route, the one that is here on the map in the red, as both the second highest-risk route, the second highest exposure level and the second longest in distance of miles traveled.

   Although the DOE argues that there is minimal amount of risk associated with the transport of this material, the risk was obviously high enough that the Canadian Government did not want it to go through their golden triangle. If the route is the second riskiest, then why is it chosen? Furthermore, the Mackinac Bridge where it will have to cross Lake Huron and Lake Michigan is undergoing maintenance, the same reason why the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Michigan, was removed from consideration. If one route is chosen because a bridge is under repair, then why would DOE choose the Mackinac Bridge, the world's largest suspension bridge, which is undergoing maintenance as a suitable route?

   My amendment would just simply delay the decision to choose the transportation route until there has been adequate opportunity for public comment on a particular route and the citizens, Members of Congress, governors and emergency response personnel have an opportunity to ask questions. The Canadian Government is affording their citizens the opportunity for comment, and we should demand our citizens have the same rights.

   I agree it is important to dispose of the excess U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons material; however, I believe the process for determining the route should be made after, only after, the public has been notified of the proposed route and Department of Energy has solicited comments about the selection and to answer our questions.

   I urge my colleagues, and I urge the leadership on this floor here today to support my amendment requiring, just requiring, a public hearing before choosing the route for this plutonium shipment.

   Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. SENSENBRENNER), the gentleman from California (Mr. CALVERT), and the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. COSTELLO) for the opportunity to present this amendment.


[Time: 14:30]

   Mr. BONIOR. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

   Mr. Chairman, let me say, first of all, I want to thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. COSTELLO) and others for allowing us to present this amendment today. I want to commend my friend from Michigan (Mr. STUPAK). The gentleman's amendment, as he so articulately put it, would protect something that is extremely important: the right of the public to closely examine and respond to proposed shipments of radioactive plutonium through our communities.

   This nuclear waste is, as one can imagine, inherently dangerous and proposals to ship it through our communities over the Great Lakes, the largest bodies of freshwater in the world, 20 percent of all the freshwater in the world, 95 percent of all the freshwater in our country, this has sparked a widespread concern about health and safety.

   People in our region, the Great Lakes region, have many legitimate questions; and they have a right to know the risks to which their communities could be subjected. Are there alternative routes that would steer clear of major cities, towns, and avoid transporting this waste over water? How will it be shipped? What precautions will be taken to prevent an accident? Are such shipments vulnerable to theft and hijacking? What are the potential hazards if something goes wrong?

   We need to answer these questions before we even consider any shipments that would put our families and our communities and our water at risk. Remember something. As I said, the freshwater in this region here represents 20 percent of the world's freshwater, which is in high demand given the fact that we have 6 billion people on this Earth, and it is exponentially increasing in demand, especially in Asia and other countries.

   It is a serious problem, and this is a very fine resource. We cannot afford to put that resource at the risk of contamination.

   Last year, I opposed a proposal to ship, as the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. STUPAK) pointed out, this weapons-grade plutonium through my district and across the Blue Water Bridge from Port Huron to Sarnia because the risks are too great.

   I was just in my office now, and came down to the floor, talking to a member of the parliament, my counterpart across the way, Roger Gallaway, who expressed his dismay and his anger as well about these shipments potentially through our district.

   Now the Department of Energy has come back with another route, this one passing through major cities like St. Louis, Chicago before crossing three of five of the Great Lakes. Then the new route would actually cross the Mackinac Bridge, the world's longest single-span suspension bridge, which stretches 5 miles over open water.

   To make matters worse, the Department of Energy did not even bother to consult the emergency response team along the way. One would think that would be one of the first things that would be done here. Nor was there any public input that I have been able to ascertain. This proposed route is wrong and the people deserve to have their voice heard.

   Here in this Congress we are accustomed to making laws, but there is another law out there that often takes precedence over what we do here, and it is called Murphy's Law: if something can go wrong, it probably will. So let us not take a chance with a truckload of radioactive plutonium spoiling our communities, poisoning our very precious resource, our water, our fresh water, and endangering our families.

   The Stupak amendment establishes an important safeguard against such disasters by establishing an official public forum for exchange of information and for a careful scrutiny of any proposed shipment. It is necessary, it is a very necessary response, to a planning process that has been flawed from the beginning. I urge my colleagues to support the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. STUPAK) in his amendment.

   Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

   Mr. Chairman, I am prepared to support this amendment, but I am absolutely shocked that an administration that was committed to preserving the environment would be planning such a thing. So perhaps we Republicans can help wake an administration that has been insensitive to environmental concerns such as those that the minority whip of the House of Representatives has brought to our attention to wake up. I urge support of the amendment.

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   Mr. COSTELLO. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

   Mr. Chairman, we strongly support and commend the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. STUPAK) for his amendment and move its adoption.

   The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. STUPAK).

   The amendment was agreed to.


   Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

   The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

   The text of the amendment is as follows:

   Amendment No. 2 offered by Ms. BERKLEY:

   Page 36, after line 9, insert the following new section:


   (a) IN GENERAL.--Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall commence a program of research and development on the technology necessary to achieve onsite transmutation of nuclear waste into nonradioactive substances.


   (1) ASSISTANCE.--The Secretary may award grants or contracts to, or enter into cooperative agreements with, institutions of higher education and industrial enterprises to conduct a research, development, and demonstration program on the technology necessary to achieve onsite transmutation of nuclear waste into nonradioactive substances in a manner consistent with United States environmental and nonproliferation policy. The Secretary shall not support a technology under this section that involves the isolation of plutonium or uranium.

   (2) PEER REVIEW.--Funds made available under paragraph (1) for initiating contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, interagency funds transfer agreements, and field work proposals shall be made available based on a competitive selection process and a peer review of proposals. Exemptions shall be considered on a case-by-case basis, and reported by the Secretary to the Committee on Science of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate 30 days prior to any such award.

   (c) CONSULTATION.--The Secretary may establish an advisory panel consisting of experts from indust4ry, institutions of higher education, and other entities as the Secretary considers appropriate, to assist in developing recommendations and priorities for the research, development, and demonstration program carried out under subsection (a).


   (1) ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES.--Not more than 5 percent of the amount made available to carry out this section for a fiscal year may be used by the Secretary for expenses associated with the administration of the program carried out under subsection (a).

   (2) CONSTRUCTION COSTS.--None of the funds made available to carry out this section may be used for the construction of a new building or the acquisition, expansion, remodeling, or alteration of an existing building (including site grading and improvement and architect fees).

   (c) DEFINITIONS.--For purposes of this section:

   (1) CONTRACT.--The term ``contract'' means a procurement contract within the meaning of section 6303 of title 31, United States Code.

   (2) COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT.--The term ``cooperative agreement'' means a cooperative agreement within the meaning of section 6305 of title 31, United States Code.

   (3) GRANT.--The term ``grant'' means a grant awarded under a grant agreement, within the meaning of section 6304 of title 31, United States Code.

   (4) INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION.--The term ``institution of higher education'' means an institution of higher education, within the meaning of section 1201(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1141(a)).

   (f) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.--Of the amounts authorized under section 3(a)(2)(G), $2,000,000 for fiscal year 2000 and $4,000,000 for fiscal year 2001 shall be available for carrying out this section.

   (Ms. BERKLEY asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)

   Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Chairman, I rise to offer an amendment to H.R. 1655. This amendment is intended to help America harness the brain power of top scientists in a quest to solve one of the great technological challenges facing our Nation, neutralizing, not merely storing, high-level nuclear waste.

   I would like to thank the chairman of the Committee on Science and the ranking member for their support of this amendment.

   My colleagues in this chamber are well aware of my views on the proposed plan to bury nuclear waste in my home State of Nevada. I am adamantly opposed to it. I am not here today, however, to debate the Yucca Mo untain pr oject. Rather, I offer an amendment that I hope will capture the imagination of my colleagues, whether my colleagues oppose or support the Yucca Mo untain pr ogram.

   Billions of dollars are being spent studying how to store high-level nuclear waste because it is deadly. No matter where it is put, it is deadly, and the United States and the rest of the world have produced hundreds of thousands of tons of it. Even if we build a repository within a few years, it will be over capacity. We would have to build another multibillion facility and another and another as the next century unfolds.

   There would still be thousands of tons of waste at the reactors sites across the country. All of this waste is just as toxic as the day it was generated. Even if it was generated 40 or 50 years ago, it is still just as toxic. It takes 250,000 years to fully neutralize it. The scientists who unlocked the power of the atom in the 1940s knew about this problem and the Federal Government knew about it; but with no solution immediately at hand they simply put their trust in science itself, believing that a process would be invented to neutralize high level nuclear waste.

   I urge support of my amendment to H.R. 1655. The time is overdue to accept responsibility of finding a technological solution to nuclear waste, ridding the Nation of this threat.

   My amendment would establish a nuclear waste transmutation research and development program. The goal is to develop the technology we need to transmute nuclear waste right at the reactor sites. Transmutation is a process which turns radioactive waste into nonradioactive substances.

   This amendment fully complies with environmental and nuclear nonproliferation policies. It prohibits development of technology that could isolate plutonium and uranium. This amendment instructs the Secretary of Energy to commence a program of research and development, and it authorizes the secretary to award grants or contracts to industries and universities.

   Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Chairman, will the gentlewoman yield?

   Ms. BERKLEY. I yield to the gentleman from Wisconsin.

   Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Chairman, we are very pleased to support this amendment and hope we can have a vote on it promptly.

   Mr. COSTELLO. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

   Mr. Chairman, we are in strong support of the amendment.

   Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Berkley amendment. As most of you know, I have spoken at length to explain the reasons why nuclear waste should not be sent to an interim or permanent storage facility in Nevada.

   I have been asked many times what the alternative is to permanent burial of high level nuclear waste. The answer is transmutation.

   The word transmutation originates from the goal of ancient alchemists to transform, or transmute base metals into gold. Today scientists seek ways, and have developed proven systems to transmute radioactive waste into nonradioactive elements, thereby eliminating the radiological hazards and waste disposal problems.

   The first mistake this country made in regards to the problem of spent nuclear fuel occurred in 1977, when President Carter halted all U.S. efforts to reprocess spent nuclear fuel.

   The concern was that when reprocessing occurs it could potentially create a smaller, but refined fuel that could be stolen and used in nuclear weapons. He argued that the United States should halt its reprocessing program as an example to other countries in the hope that they would follow suit.

   As we can see today other countries did not follow our example and in the end harmed our efforts to deal with spent nuclear fuel.

   Senator DOMENICI understands this problem well and has presented a solution, a solution that is supported by this amendment before you today. He stated in regards to the transmutation of nuclear waste:

   Let me highlight one attractive option. A group from several of our largest companies, using technologies developed at three of our national laboratories and from Russian institutes and their nuclear navy, discussed with me an approach to use that waste for electrical generation. They use an accelerator, not a reactor, so there is never any critical assembly.

   There is minimal processing, but carefully done so that weapons-grade materials are never separated out and so that international verification can be used--but now

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the half lives are changed so that it's a hazard for perhaps 300 years--a far cry from 100,000 years. This approach, called Accelerator Transmutation of Waste, is an area I want to see investigated aggressively.

   We are realizing some of the benefits of nuclear technologies today, but only a fraction of what we could realize. [W]e aren't tapping the full potential of the nucleus for additional benefits. In the process, we are short-changing our citizens.

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