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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.

   While some may continue to lament that the nuclear genie is out of his proverbial bottle, I'm ready to focus on harnessing that genie as effectively and fully as possible, for the largest set of benefit for our citizens.

   Senator DOMENICI is correct and we should not be shortchanging or endangering our citizens. And that is exactly what will happen if we fail to further the development and utilization of transmutation.

   Let's not bury our hands in the sand, the same approach this country is currently taking with the permanent burial of our nuclear waste.

   The alternative that we face is disastrous because the nuclear power industry has spent millions of dollars in their campaign to convince members of Congress that storage of high level nuclear waste in Nevada is sound science, fiscally responsible and poses no dangers to public health and safety.

   Unfortunately, none of this is true. In 1987, in political haste, Congress arbitrarily selected Yucca Mo untain, 9 5 miles northwest of Las Vegas (the fastest growing metropolitan city in the country), to host a permanent repository for high level nuclear waste.

   Realizing that the Yucca Mo untain pr oject has become a failure and has needlessly expended millions of taxpayer dollars, the nuclear industry has now changed its focus to ``interim storage.''

   This so-called interim storage lasts for over 100 years. Aside from the fact that Nevada has never benefitted from nuclear generated power, there are numerous reasons why this legislation is irresponsible, indefensible and wrong.

   First, transporting nuclear waste recklessly endangers the rights of millions of private property owners across the United States and ignores over 20 years of environmental statutes. The private property implications could significantly add to the federal tab.

   A precedent has already been set in New Mexico. In 1992, Mr. John Komis was awarded over $800,000 for the devaluation of his property because of the public's perceived fear of nuclear waste. The City of Santa Fe condemned 43 acres for construction of a highway to transport nuclear waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project site.

   The District Court and the New Mexico Supreme Court both upheld a decision to award Komis the money because there was a perceived devaluation of land due to the transportation of nuclear waste adjacent to that land.

   As this high level nuclear waste travels from the 109 nuclear reactors located primarily on the east coast to a facility in Nevada, the transportation routes cross 43 states and run through thousands of local communities across the country. Imagine the burden on the federal Treasury if all the property owners adjacent to these proposed transportation routes were awarded like Mr. Komis. The cost to the federal government would be staggering.

   Second, permanent disposal clearly does not go far enough to protect our environmental and jurisdictional concerns. It still blatantly ignores many environmental and public health statutes, such as the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Clean Air Act.

   In addition, it completely ignores the public process that is specifically outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which requires federal agencies to consider alternatives, seek public comment and consider any and all environmental ramifications before proceeding with a major federal action.

   Transportation of high level nuclear waste also warrants serious concern, because the consequences would be devastating. A 1985 DOE contractor report concluded that a severe, credible accident involving a single, current-generation rail cask could result in release of radioactive materials to the environment.

   According to the study, release of only a small fraction of the cask's contents would be sufficient to contaminate a 42 square-mile area. The costs of cleanup after such an accident would exceed $620 million, and the cleanup effort would require 460 days, if it occurred in a rural area. Now imagine the cost of a similar cleanup in an urban area, realizing these costs cannot include the intangible cost of human life and health.

   The environment and the health and safety of millions of people will be jeopardized because of political expediency.

   With all the attention of the nuclear waste debate focusing on a solution that does not consider good, sound science, economic or social implications or health and safety or environmental issues it is easy to lose sight of possible solutions.

   We need to shift the focus from concentrating on an industry wish list to a viable, realistic solution that considers these vitally important issues.

   In truth, while we were developing the technology to transport the waste, we discovered and perfected the safest storage capability available. It is known as dry cask storage. The scientific, economic and safety arguments all result in dry-cask storage as the best solution to store high level nuclear waste. Articles in the San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post both aggressively support this approach to solving this dilemma.

   This coupled with the technology of transmutation is truly the best long term solution for our country.

   In the future, spent nuclear fuel could become a very valuable resource. With technology using transmutators with accelerators, we will be able to use spent nuclear fuel as an energy source and in the process drastically reduce the volume from approximately 90% unused nuclear fuel to less than 10% unused.

   In addition, this substantially decreases the half-life of this dangerous substance. By keeping this spent fuel on site, it is the best environmental solution, and it is easily retrievable for the purpose of transmutation.

   When taking a close look at the details, it is easy to see a realistic solution to the nuclear waste dilemma that the nation is facing. It is time to abandon the track of political expediency and look to sensible, responsible alternatives.

   On-site, dry cask storage and transmutation does not bust the budget, does not endanger private property rights, public health and safety, nor does it roll back years of environmental statutes.

   I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and support a common sense solution for our nations spent nuclear fuel.

   The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from Nevada (Ms. BERKLEY).

   The amendment was agreed to.


   Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

   The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

   The text of the amendment is as follows:

   Amendment offered by Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas:

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


   It is the sense of the Congress that the Department should increase its efforts to recruit and employ qualified minorities for carrying out the research and development functions of the Department.

   Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I would like to particularly thank the ranking member, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. COSTELLO), and thank the chairman, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. SENSENBRENNER), for allowing the dialogue on this amendment.

   Let me emphasize that I am gratified that there has been some improvement because of the work of our Committee on Science on the idea of recruiting and employing qualified minorities, for carrying out the research and development functions of the Department of Energy.

   We have spoken, as we move into the 21st century, of the importance of including and enforcing, or in emphasizing, diversity in our math and science technical and research areas. This amendment would ask or indicate that it was a sense of Congress that the Department of Energy would increase its efforts to recruit and employ qualified minorities for carrying out the research and development.

   I would like to note in a visit that I had this past recess to Los Alamos National Laboratory, in reviewing the security issues I also asked questions about its diversity. Let me applaud them for the percentages of Hispanics that they have working in a number of their programs, but on the other hand they had very low numbers of American Indians, Asian Americans and African Americans.

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