You are here

Congressmen Reed & Higgins Offer Amendment to Restore Funding for West Valley Clean-Up

7/12/2011- U.S. Representatives Tom Reed (NY-29) and Brian Higgins (NY-27) have together introduced an amendment to increase funding designated for clean-up efforts at the West Valley site, a move aimed at protecting the greater Western New York community and saving money over the long-term.  The Reed-Higgins Amendment would restore $41 million to the non-defense environmental cleanup fund in H.R. 2354, the FY 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill. 

“Our amendment makes good sense from both a governmental and a financial stand point,” Reed commented. “In the midst of a debt-driven crisis, we must carefully prioritize every dollar we spend. Public safety facilities, especially those containing radioactive waste, must be at the top of the priority list.”

“The Department of Energy has an obligation to clean up this nuclear waste and to protect local communities and Congress has an obligation to fund the program at levels sufficient to clean these sites thoroughly and expeditiously,” said Higgins, a member of the Great Lakes Task Force.  

“The consequences would be environmentally and economically dire if this radioactive waste makes its way into the Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh water in the world.” 

The Reed-Higgins Amendment would take money for clean-up from two administrative accounts. “Instead of allowing this $41 million to disappear into the D.C. bureaucracy, our amendment shifts these tax dollars directly to the local sites where it is needed most,” Reed observed. 

"At the same time it responsibly addresses the environmental legacy of previous generations before it becomes a bigger problem for future generations," added Higgins.

Without the amendment, the appropriation will extend the first phase of the cleanup from 10 to 14 years.  With maintenance costs at $30 million per year, an additional 4 years means $120 million in additional necessary funding. That money would be saved by the passage of the Reed-Higgins Amendment.  

The West Valley site was established in the 1960s in response to a federal call for efforts to commercialize the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from power reactors.  While the site was in operation, approximately 640 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel was reprocessed. Reprocessing operations were halted between 1972 and 1976 to support facility modifications, but operations never resumed. The U.S. Department of Energy became responsible for the site through the West Valley Demonstration Project Act of 1980, legislation requiring the Department to solidify the high-level waste and dispose of it.