By a recent vote of 223-195, the House of Representatives approved an amendment to the 2013 Energy and Water Appropriations bill that would increase funding for cleanup efforts at the West Valley site.
The amendment was introduced by U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, and U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-South Buffalo.
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.
"Timely cleaning of the West Valley site is a long-term public safety issue," Reed said. "The remediation work at West Valley and other nuclear sites cannot slow down. Any delay increases the danger and cost. I thank Congressman Higgins for joining us yet again to stand up for the safety of Western New Yorkers."
The amendment transfers $36 million in funds from administrative accounts to the non-defense environmental cleanup fund, which supports West Valley remediation. Last year, Reed and Higgins sponsored a similar successful amendment to the 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.
"I'm pleased to once again join with my colleague, Congressman Reed, to stand up for Western New York and ensure that the West Valley cleanup project continues on schedule," Higgins said. "This is a common sense, bipartisan amendment that protects our environment and our Great Lakes and prevents the cost of cleanup from multiplying."