West Virginia House of Delegates Sends Nuclear Ban Repeal to Governor’s Office | News, Sports, Jobs
CHARLESTON — A bill removing the ban on building nuclear power plants in West Virginia wrapped up legislative action on Monday and made its way to Gov. Jim Justice’s office.
The House of Delegates passed Senate Bill 4 Monday morning 76-16, repealing sections of the state code banning the construction of nuclear power plants in West Virginia, nearly a week after the Senate approved The law project.
The bill has enjoyed broad bipartisan support, bringing together Republican and Democratic lawmakers who want to make West Virginia more attractive to manufacturers looking to reduce their carbon footprint and go green.
“I’m glad we’re discussing nuclear. It’s a big deal,” said delegate Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia. “These are the types of discussions that are important to us as we diversify our economy and create jobs in West Virginia even as we tackle climate change.”
“We have to be careful with nuclear power, however, that track record is good and we have to be in this game,” said delegate Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock. “It’s safe to be an all-in state. It is prudent to have various means of energy production. I think it’s time to think about it. »
Lawmakers began considering repealing the ban after conversations with North Carolina-based steelmaker Nucor, which plans to build a steel mill in Mason County. Nucor uses electric arc furnaces instead of charcoal furnaces producing carbon dioxide. Nucor announced plans last year to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pursue cleaner energy sources.
Most of the opposition and concern from lawmakers, especially delegates representing parts of the southern coalfields, centered on the radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants. Opponents have also raised the specter of possible nuclear meltdowns at future state nuclear power plants.
“I’m the furthest thing in this room from an environmentalist, but I just want to say nuclear is never a problem until it’s not, so it’s a big deal,” he said. said delegate Tony Paynter, R-Wyoming. “I don’t want to go down that road.”
“I’m not for that,” said delegate Ed Evans, D-McDowell. “This waste will not leave tomorrow. It’s not going away next week, next year, next decade. It has been around for hundreds of years.
Three major commercial nuclear power plant failures have occurred: Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979, Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union in 1986, and the 2011 earthquake that damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Otherwise, nuclear power plants and reactors used in naval vessels have a positive safety record.
Radioactive waste from commercial nuclear power plants is stored onsite in wet pools for five years and dry drums, according to the Congressional Research Service. The Nuclear Energy Institute, a Washington, DC-based trade organization, says these storage methods take up little space and are safe.
“I don’t think that’s something we’re going to see in the next decade. It’s going to take some time to develop, but I think it’s exciting,” said delegate Kayla Young, D-Kanawha. “Nuclear waste is the only physically contained waste. Other waste goes into the air, it goes into the water, it goes into the ground.
SB 4 removes two sections of the code prohibiting the construction of new nuclear power plants, except in certain circumstances. The ban has been in effect since 1996.
The Civil Service Commission and the State Department of Environmental Protection have established rules and regulations regarding the construction of new power plants and the management of radioactive waste.
New nuclear power plants also fall under the authority of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.