In-Depth: Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to reauthorize the West Valley demonstration project at $75 million in each of the years 2020-2026. When he introduced this bill in the 115th Congress, he said:
“We are proud to be an unrelenting advocate for West Valley and care about ensuring a fair amount of funding for the complete and total cleanup of this nuclear site. This bill offers clarity for our friends and neighbors and ensures the health and safety of our environment for years to come.”
Scott Anderson, West Valley Deputy General Manager, said, “We are fully supportive of the $75 million allocation. That will be extremely helpful in maintaining the cleanup momentum we have established at West Valley.”
In a joint statement, Ashford Town Supervisor Charlie Davis and West Valley Citizen Task Force Board Member and Ashford Town Council Member John Pfeffer said:
“The Town of Ashford appreciates Tom’s diligence and commitment to the West Valley Demonstration Project Act. Funding the project at the current level allows for the timely completion of decommissioning activities that are required under the Act and are beneficial to the people working at and living near the West Valley Demonstration Project. Completion of cleanup activities will allow the Town of Ashford work towards a better use of the site in the future."
This bill has one cosponsor, Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY). Last Congress, Rep. Reed introduced a version of this bill that would have reauthorized the West Valley demonstration project through FY 2025 with the support of five bipartisan cosponsors, including four Democrats and one Republican. The bill passed the House with by a voice vote, but didn’t receive a vote in the Senate.
Of Note: The West Valley Demonstration Project (VWDP), formerly Western New York Service Center, was established by the West Valley Demonstration Project Act of 1980. The Act requires that the Dept. of Energy (DOE) solidify the high-level waste, dispose of waste created by the solidification, and decommission the facilities used in the process.
There are currently about 34,000 cubic feet of waste at West Valley. New York state says that the material has similar characteristics to defense-related transuranic waste disposed of at the DOE’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. However, the DOE has taken the position that the West Valley waste isn’t defense-related, and is therefore ineligible to go to WIPP.
According to federal statute, New York is responsible for 10 percent of the cleanup cost at West Valley. However, in 2006, New York sued the DOE, asking the court to determine the level of federal responsibility under the law, including long-term stewardship of the site, and seeking reimbursement of its costs and compensation for some aspects of the West Valley cleanup effort.
The $75 million a year that this bill calls for is a 30 percent increase in funding since Rep. Reed was first elected to Congress in 2010.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / vchal)