The future of nuclear waste storage demands an in-concert effort between the federal government and the communities where the waste might end up, according to presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who spoke briefly Friday with the Aiken Standard.
Booker, who supports advancing nuclear power but opposes the Yucca Mountain venture in Nevada, said local perspective is vital, adding that environmental justice and cleanup, more broadly, deserves greater attention. Resources especially matter, he said, when dealing with the remediation of toxic sites.
The New Jersey Democrat in April co-sponsored the Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act, which requires the U.S. Department of Energy to secure approval from a state's governor, local-level governments and nearby tribes before a nuclear waste repository could be constructed.
Four other Democrats currently running for president – Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – also backed the legislation, which was introduced by a Yucca Mountain critic in early March.
Booker is a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, as is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who dropped out of the presidential race late last month. The committee has jurisdiction over environmental regulations and nuclear energy, among other topics.
Effective nuclear waste storage is of special interest in the CSRA because of the Savannah River Site, a 310-square-mile nuclear reserve south of Aiken and near New Ellenton and Jackson.
The site is home to millions of gallons of radioactive waste awaiting handling, processing and long-term storage.
The waste has been described as South Carolina's single largest environmental threat, and members of the state's federal delegation are eager to see cleanup at the site.