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Senate fails to override Clinton veto of nuclear waste storage bill

May 2, 2000
Web posted at: 6:01 p.m. EDT (2201 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate failed Tuesday to override President Bill Clinton's veto of the nuclear waste storage bill on a 64 to 35 vote -- two votes short of the two-thirds needed.

The legislation provided for storing high-level spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants in 34 states at Nevada's Yucca Mountain. The state's two Democratic senators strongly opposed the bill. The bill is likely dead for the year.

Clinton vetoed the measure on environmental grounds, saying it would have curbed the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to set radiation protection standards for Yucca Mountain.

The EPA is scheduled to issue final regulations on radiation standards this summer. The bill would have delayed standards until June 2001 and then required the EPA to consult with the National Academy of Sciences and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, (R-Illinois), expressed his disappointment in the vote.

"I'm particularly frustrated that the citizens of Illinois and electric customers from coast to coast have been forced to pay more than $14 billion for a safe and sound single storage site with nothing to show for it," he said in a written statement.

The problem of how to dispose of spent nuclear waste is chronic and growing as research facilities, hospitals and utility companies generate more waste, and states find it increasingly difficult to dispose of the waste within their borders because of local opposition as well as environmental and security concerns.

The federal government and nuclear energy industry have tried for years to find an answer to the disposal problem, eventually setting upon a single remote site 100 miles from Las Vegas. But Nevada citizens strongly resisted efforts to turn the mountain into a dumping site.


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Tuesday, May 2, 2000

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