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Sen. Collins files bipartisan bill to help communities that store stranded nuclear waste

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Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine joined a Democratic colleague from Illinois in filing proposed new legislation that would provide federal assistance to communities that store nuclear waste, including Wiscasset.

Collins joined Sen. Tammy Duckworth in introducing the Sensible, Timely Relief for America’s Nuclear Districts’ Economic Development (STRANDED) Act, according to a news release from Collins' office.

“Communities across the nation that continue to store spent nuclear fuel are unfairly burdened with the direct and indirect costs of storage,” Collins said in a statement. “The STRANDED Act would help these communities, including the town of Wiscasset, Maine, which is home to the decommissioned Maine Yankee, by establishing a grant program to support economic development and create jobs. While the federal government must also move forward with a permanent solution for nuclear waste as required by law, our legislation will take interim steps to assist these adversely impacted communities.”

The STRANDED Act would award federal grants to local governments to offset the costs of storing stranded nuclear waste, according to the news release. It also would establish a task force to identify existing funding that could help these communities. Affected communities would be eligible for $15 per kilogram of spent nuclear fuel stored.

The Town of Wiscasset Board of Selectmen passed a resolution last year in support of the bill.

“For more than two decades, the people of Wiscasset have been stuck dealing with nuclear waste that the federal government has failed to remove from Maine Yankee,” U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said in a statement. “As we continue to press the Department of Energy to live up to its legal responsibility, we should also take steps to support communities like Wiscasset as they continue to face the costs associated with this stranded nuclear waste. This shouldn’t be their burden to face alone.”

Maine Yankee was closed permanently in 1997. Under federal law, the waste stored there was supposed to be removed by January 1998, but more than 60 canisters of nuclear waste remain.

This article originally ran on thecentersquare.com.

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