State lawmakers discuss storing nuclear waste in Wyoming

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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) The Wyoming legislative Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee learned about potentially storing spent nuclear fuel rods in the state at its their Tuesday interim meeting in Casper.

Wyoming state Sen. James Anderson, R-Natrona, listens to testimony at the Spent Fuel Rods Subcommittee meeting in Casper, Wyo. on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.

Committee members received a report from the Spent Fuel Rods Subcommittee, which met in Casper on Sept. 5. The report said transportation and storage of spent fuel rods is safe in casks.

“We were only talking about just storing dry casks, which means we set them up out there and don’t do anything with them. We don’t process anything or anything like that,” Sen. James Anderson, R-Natrona, said.

He chaired the Spent Fuel Rods Subcommittee.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon will decide whether to start negotiations with the U.S. Department of Energy to bring nuclear waste to the state. Anderson said Gordon already has the authority to negotiate on the state’s behalf without new legislation.

Not everyone though is convinced storing nuclear waste in Wyoming is a good idea.

“It’s getting it here,” said Lander resident Colleen Whalen.

She is a member of Wyoming Against Nuclear Dumps.

“I believe putting nuclear waste on the highways at his high amount is too dangerous and it’s too much risk for our country. It’s like a traveling Chernobyl,” Whalen said.

She said if a cask is breach, it could endanger everyone for miles.

Anderson said, however, the casks are tested for potential accidents. It includes dropping one from an airplane, have a locomotive run over a cask and dump one off a truck.

“We found that in 35 years they have not had an accident. They had like 1,300 casks transported in that 35 years and no accidents whatsoever,” he said.

Anderson said the state’s looking at storing nuclear waste as it could generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenues, which is important to avoid state cuts to K-12 education.