Congress won't touch state's nuclear waste issue — Dingell
By MIKE MACNER
ANN ARBOR NEWS BUREAU
WASHINGTON — Congress won’t touch the nuclear-waste hot potato that Michigan Gov. James J. Blanchard keeps tossing at it, says U.S. Rep. John Dingell, one of the governor’s most powerful allies.
The heated debate over low-level radioactive waste disposal was settled on Capitol Hill 10 years ago by turning the problem over to the states, said Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the issue.
Now that only Michigan and a dozen other states face the prospect of building nuclear waste dumps, most members of Congress have no interest in Blanchard’s proposal for a new federal law to reduce the number of sites, Dingell said.
“Our problem on that is simple,” he said. “Only seven to 13 states are going to have sites. The rest of the states are just as happy as can be with the whole busi-
The law passed by Congress in 1980 requires states to build their own nuclear dumps or join disposal compacts with other states by 1993, when the three existing dumps in South Carolina, Washington and Nevada will stop accepting waste from other states.
Seven states are now planning to build disposal sites for compacts and six states are considering building their own dumps.
Michigan formed a compact with six Midwestern states and was selected for the first disposal site because it generates the most low-level nuclear waste. Most of the waste comes from hospitals, universities and industries that use radioactive materials, such as X-ray equipment.