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Mass. officials seek long-term answer on nuke fuel

May 28, 2013

BOSTON (AP) — On-site storage of spent nuclear fuel at commercial U.S. reactors poses continued risks to the public, two Massachusetts officials warned in a letter to members of Congress.

Attorney General Martha Coakley and state Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, called for passage of the Nuclear Waste Administration Act, a bill aimed at creating a process for establishing a process for creating permanent storage facilities for spent fuel.

“This is a public safety issue, an environmental issue, and a taxpayer issue — and the federal government has an obligation to act,” Coakley said in a statement.

The lack of existing long-term facilities for storing spent fuel is a “major concern,” said Murray, whose Senate district includes the Pilgrim nuclear plant.

“This legislation will establish long-needed procedures to move this waste to a permanent offsite location and ensure the safety of our communities and the quality of our environment,” Murray said.

The letter also said ratepayers are forced to shoulder the costs of storing the spent fuel at reactor sites.

When Pilgrim went on line in the 1970s, it was assumed that a permanent disposal facility would be built. In the letter, Coakley and Murray warns the stockpiling of spent fuel at individual plants increases the risk of catastrophic core melt or fire from a terrorist attack, earthquake or other natural disaster.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has asserted that the danger posed by on-site storage is low.

Carol Wightman, a spokeswoman for Pilgrim, told The Boston Globe that the plant’s storage procedures are safe, but that it would welcome a permanent disposal facility established by the federal government.

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