What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Nuclear Industry : A vote on passage of a Democratic amendment that would strike from the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization Act (S. 2400) a provision allowing the Energy Department to take high-level nuclear waste at a government site in South Carolina and reclassify it as less harmful waste that could be left where it is. (2004 senate Roll Call 107)
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A vote on passage of a Democratic amendment that would strike from the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization Act (S. 2400) a provision allowing the Energy Department to take high-level nuclear waste at a government site in South Carolina and reclassify it as less harmful waste that could be left where it is.
senate Roll Call 107     Jun 03, 2004
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

Progressives backed Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) in her effort to strike from the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization Act (S. 2400) a provision that would allow the Energy Department to take high-level nuclear waste at a government site in South Carolina and reclassify it as less harmful waste that could be left where it is. Cantwell's amendment would insert provisions that would require the department to continue activities related to the storage, retrieval, treatment and separation of high-level radioactive waste in accordance with state-approved treatment and closure plans. It would also authorize $350 million for the cleanup of such government nuclear waste sites in Idaho, South Carolina and Washington. Her amendment was rejected 48-48 (tie votes mean a measure is defeated), meaning that under the Senate bill, the Energy Department could leave deadly wastes on-site, where they already have been documented as leaking into groundwater and nearby rivers. Cantwell was seeking to upend a provision conservatives inserted into the Defense authorization bill that would stand current federal nuclear waste policy law on its head. The provision is designed to save the Energy Department the massive cost and legal and political headaches associated with having to transport and bury radioactive wastes left over from the production during the Cold War Era of massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons at sites in Washington state, South Carolina and Idaho. By changing the definition of the wastes at these former weapons sites, the Energy Department would be able to wiggle out of the high costs of transport and burial at a centrally located federal repository, and could instead leave the waste in place (usually in massive underground tanks at the former weapons production facilities) after immobilizing it with ceramic or glass, an idea derided by progressives as environmentally risky.

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