By Mike Kaszuba
Peter Bradford, a former fedeal Nuclear Regulatory Commission member, does not like the odds facing a plan by Red Wing and Monticello to divert a federal radioactive waste fee back to Minnesota to help the communities plan for storing more nuclear waste.
"It's at least going to be a pretty heavy lift for a state to find a way to divert the funds that are being collected under federal law," said Bradford, who visited the State Capitol in St. Paul on Monday.
Red Wing and Monticello, the locations of Minnesota's two nuclear power plants, are pushing legislation that would divert an estimated $13 million a year that Xcel Energy sends to the federal government for radioactive waste disposal. Because a federal plan to begin storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada is indefinitely on hold, the two Minnesota cities argue that they should get some of the money as Xcel Energy begins storing more radioactive waste at the two plants.
But Bradford, now an adjunct professor at the University of Vermont law school, said the proposal faced an uphill journey. "I'm sure the federal argument would be [that] all that's changed is that Yucca Mountain has come and gone, but the theory of the original law [collecting the fee to plan for nuclear waste disposal] remains valid.
"There's a lot of discontent," Bradford acknowledged, referring to the federal government's decision regarding Yucca Mountain. "There's a sense that the cancellation of Yucca Mountain represents the breaking of a bargain, but legally speaking that's not right."