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house Bill H.R. 347

Should a DOE Site for Radioactive Material Be Kept Open Through 2031?

Argument in favor

Uranium tailings carry a number of health risks, including cancer. As such, they must be handled properly to ensure that people and communities stay safe. Since the Cheney Disposal Cell is the only remaining DOE site that can accept uranium tailings, it’s important to keep it open as long as uranium tailings keep turning up.

Robert's Opinion
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03/05/2019
It is the only one. If it closes, where would the radioactive tailings go? It is about time that we do some long term solutions to our problems.
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Jim2423's Opinion
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03/05/2019
But the feds need to pay storage and transportation fees to the state of Colorado. Transportation fees rail or highway and storage fees. They should also pay the state of Nevada the same, storage and transportation fees for storage in Yucca Mountain.
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Lori's Opinion
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03/05/2019
Why shouldn’t we know? I am tired of the secrecy, lies, and corruption. Truth, transparency, and honesty.
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Argument opposed

The Cheney Disposal Cell is already authorized through fiscal year 2023. Since it’s only 2019, there’s no need to extend the Dept. of Energy’s authority to keep it open past 2023 just yet. It’d be better to wait until a few years so Congress can make a more informed judgment based on whether there’s still a need for a DOE site to accept uranium mill tailings by then.

burrkitty's Opinion
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03/05/2019
Get an independent assessment by a professional. This is just tying up $$ way to many years in advance.
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Kodiwodi's Opinion
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03/04/2019
I oppose this bill because first it is sponsored by three of the worst legislators in Colorado and secondly because it is not a timely bill. This is authorized through 2023 and this is 2019. Look at in a few years to determine if it still needs to be there. Not now. And only after a professional assessment.
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Scott's Opinion
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03/05/2019
Let’s wait a bit before making the decision. It is already authorized for several more years.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Environment and Climate Change
    IntroducedJanuary 8th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 347?

This bill — the Responsible Disposal Reauthorization Act of 2019 — would extend the Dept. of Energy’s (DOE) Cheney Disposal Cell through fiscal year 2031. The Cheney Disposal Cell is the DOE’s only site that can accept uranium mill tailings, which are a sand-like byproduct of uranium ore processing.

Impact

Uranium mill tailings; DOE; and the Cheney Disposal Cell.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 347

$0.00
When this bill was introduced in the 115th Congress, the CBO estimated that the DOE’s annual costs to administer the Cheney Disposal Cell total less than $500,000 annually. However, since the DOE is already authorized to operate the Cheney Disposal Cell through FY 2023, the CBO estimated that enacting this bill would have no effect on DOE’s costs over the 2018-2022 period covered by its estimate.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to extend the Dept. of Energy’s (DOE) Cheney Disposal Cell’s authorization through fiscal year 2031. When he introduced this bill in the 115th Congress, Rep. Tipton said:

“The Department of Energy’s Cheney Disposal Cell in Mesa County is a vital component of the Office of Legacy Management’s mission to protect public health and the environment. Uranium waste materials continue to be discovered during road construction, bridge replacement, home foundation excavation and other activities across Western Colorado and need a place to be disposed of. This legislation will see to it that there continues to be a safe disposal site for the tailings.”

This bill has one cosponsor, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO). It was first introduced by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) in the 114th Congress, where it had no cosponsors and didn’t receive a committee vote. In the 115th Congress, the House version of this bill, which would’ve extended authority for the Cheney Disposal Cell through FY 2030, was introduced by Rep. Tipton with the support of one cosponsor, Rep. DeGette, and it passed the House by a voice vote before failing to receive a Senate vote. A Senate version, which would’ve extended authority for the Cheney Disposal Cell through FY 2048, was introduced by Sen. Gardner without any cosponsors, and it passed the Senate Committee on Natural Resources.


Of NoteUranium mill tailings (a sand-like byproduct of uranium ore processing) were used as fill and construction material in the mid-1900s. The DOE has already cleaned up most of the sites that contained tailings, but mill tailings are still uncovered from time to time during road construction and redevelopment programs.

The Cheney Disposal Cell is the only DOE facility authorized to accept mill tailings. Under current law, the DOE Secretary may operate the Cheney Disposal Cell until 2023, or until the site has fulfilled its capacity. At present, the cell’s remaining capacity is approximately 234,000 cubic yards, and it receives 2,700 cubic yards of waste on an annual basis. As a result, the cell isn’t expected to reach its capacity by 2023.

Uranium mill tailings carry a number of health risks. They can contaminate surface water or groundwater that may be used for drinking water. If not properly handled, dust from tailings piles can be blown away from the original sites, after which point people can breathe them in or they can contaminate water. Additionally, uranium tailings contain radium, which decays to produce radon, an invisible and odorless radioactive gas that causes lung cancer. Uranium tailings may also contain selenium, which can be toxic if swallowed or absorbed at length, and thorium, a natural element that gives off radiation.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Adventure_Photo)

AKA

Responsible Disposal Reauthorization Act of 2019

Official Title

To extend the authorization of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 relating to the disposal site in Mesa County, Colorado.

    It is the only one. If it closes, where would the radioactive tailings go? It is about time that we do some long term solutions to our problems.
    Like (37)
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    Get an independent assessment by a professional. This is just tying up $$ way to many years in advance.
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    I oppose this bill because first it is sponsored by three of the worst legislators in Colorado and secondly because it is not a timely bill. This is authorized through 2023 and this is 2019. Look at in a few years to determine if it still needs to be there. Not now. And only after a professional assessment.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    But the feds need to pay storage and transportation fees to the state of Colorado. Transportation fees rail or highway and storage fees. They should also pay the state of Nevada the same, storage and transportation fees for storage in Yucca Mountain.
    Like (13)
    Follow
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    Why shouldn’t we know? I am tired of the secrecy, lies, and corruption. Truth, transparency, and honesty.
    Like (12)
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    Yes keep it open if it’s safe.
    Like (8)
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    Let’s wait a bit before making the decision. It is already authorized for several more years.
    Like (6)
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    Protect the resources
    Like (5)
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    Closing the only site equipped for this waste would be stupid snd possibly disastrous for the environment should it not be extended later.
    Like (4)
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    And we should fund research into safely recycling and/or better disposing of nuclear waste.
    Like (4)
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    We need some where to keep radioactive materials safe from the public
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    Radioactive material is a huge problem that nobody wants to talk about. The nuclear plants were built with no real plan to deal with radioactive wastes. I assume we are all on board with dumping the waste in the ocean was not a good idea!
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    Until an alternative is found we have no choice.
    Like (3)
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    No, because we have huge orchards all throughout the western slope. To anyone who has ever tasted a fresh juicy palisade peach knows exactly why we must not allow that water supply to become contaminated. For those who have not, I certainly hope this bill does not pass and you are given an opportunity. Tipton, Stop selling out the district you claim to represent, please. We are already having more frequent and severe earthquakes due to all the fracking you allow, and several communities have been forced to move to bottle water because of the chemical taste, do you really need to risk devastating the water supply from one of the state’s most profitable agricultural sector? Maybe, you could work on getting kids in your district to school five days a week instead of being the target of Wall Street Journal article on poorly managed schools. Colorado was the laughing stock of the country for several weeks. Or could you, please, see about securing funds to supplement the salaries of licensed certified teachers with a bachelors or higher from $36,000 a year to what is considered a livable wage of $52,000 per year. Either would be more palatable than this bill.
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    Not without an independent expert approval of how well this site is doing its job in containing dangerous radiation! Most of these sites are a disgrace and entirely inadequate to contain radiation--we need to have close inspection and new modern technology being used to keep us safe!
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    It worries me that I agree with a Republican, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. We need to keep radioactive sites open especially if this is the only one that takes specific type.
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    If it’s the only place to put the radioactive material it needs to be extended & all nuclear bases construction HALTED & NEVER STARTED AGAIN. Stupid to start using Nuclear materials for energy when we didn’t know how to get rid of it.
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    The federal government shouldn't be storing nuclear waste. Shut it down, and the states and private groups will have no choice but to take care of this problem.
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    This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life
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    It would be exceptionally foolhardy to close the only remaining DOE site which accepts uranium tailings given the tailings will continue to be produced.
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