The Department of Energy budget passed Wednesday by the House Appropriations Committee addresses several projects important to the Tri-Cities, ranging from the Manhattan Project National Historical Park to the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear repository.
No money is expected to be budgeted for the new national park, which would include Hanford’s historic B Reactor, until after DOE and the National Park Service have worked out an agreement on the roles and responsibilities for each agency. The agreement is expected to be completed in December.
The House bill language does encourage DOE to move forward with plans to establish the park.
Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., said he was encouraged that the bill includes money to continue work at the Yucca Mountain, Nev., proposed nuclear repository. He called it a critical component of Hanford cleanup.
The House legislation would provide $150 million to support a nuclear waste repository at Yucca, plus some additional money for licensing work for the proposed repository.
President Obama’s budget request did not support the repository. Instead, the administration supported a plan to find a new site for a national nuclear waste repository that would have the support of local and state officials.
A second repository might be needed, and the House Appropriations Committee might support that activity, the bill language indicated.
“In the meantime, the bill contains a prohibition on using funds to close the Yucca Mountain license application or to take actions that would irrevocably remove Yucca Mountain as an option for a repository,” the House bill report said.
The proposed House budget also includes money for the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico, where Hanford waste contaminated with plutonium is sent for disposal. Shipping is on hold until after the repository recovers from a radiation release more than a year ago.
More money to develop small modular nuclear reactors also was included in the bill.
The bill includes $62.5 million for the reactors, which is $8 million more than the current year. Tri-City supporters of the reactors have proposed a demonstration project at Hanford and see the Tri-Cities as an ideal place to manufacture or assemble the reactors before they are shipped to sites where they would be used.