WASHINGTON — The Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation Tuesday that directs the government to explore one candidate site--rather than three--for the nation's first permanent nuclear waste repository.
Although the choice will not be made until early 1989, Yucca Mountain, Nev., is widely regarded as the likely pick, barring a reversal of political opposition in more highly populated states. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) denounced the legislation as harmful to his state.
The measure also revokes the Energy Department's selection of Oak Ridge, Tenn., as the location for an interim packaging and storage facility, directing that the department look elsewhere for one, and possibly two, such plants.
In a series of votes, the appropriations panel effectively embraced a revision of the nuclear waste program crafted by Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), whose Energy Committee already had approved a separate bill incorporating the changes.
Among other features, it offers the state picked for a permanent nuclear waste repository a federal "incentive" payment of $100 million annually. The state, or states, chosen for the temporary storage plant, known as a Monitored Retrievable Storage facility, would get $50 million a year.