26 May 2010

Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission to see Hanford first-hand

The Blue Ribbon Commission on nuclear waste announced this morning that it plans to visit Hanford July 14 and 15.

The commission was formed at President Barack Obama’s order to recommend what the nation should do with spent commercial nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste from weapons production, including Hanford’s high level waste.

The waste was expected to go to the planned repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., but Obama has opposed opening the repository and the commission has been instructed not to consider Yucca Mountain.

The panel stressed this morning that it is not a siting commission and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., echoed that.

“This will not be an audition for making Hanford a permanent repository for nuclear waste,” she said in a statement.

The panel wants to visit Hanford to meet with a diverse group of people who have long dealt with radioactive waste issues technically, socially and politically, said a commission spokesman.

“While the commission will not be looking at specific repository sites, I am disappointed the Obama administration has dismissed out of hand any discussion of Yucca Mountain and I have made clear I will fight any attempt to make Hanford the site for a permanent repository,” she said.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., called the planned visit “a political endeavor.”

“The Blue Ribbon Commission was formed so that President Obama could terminate Yucca Mountain without having to answer the question of what next,” he said in a statement.

Even though the commission has said it is not a site selection committee, Yucca Mountain has been arbitrarily taken off the table, he said.

“Consequently we are left to assume that everything else is on the table,” he said."

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