Shawn Raymundo, Dana Point Times

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $982.8 billion spending package last month that includes millions in funding to establish a program to temporarily store nuclear waste from the nation’s power plants, including the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (SONGS).

The four-bill appropriations package, which passed in a 226-203 vote on June 19, provides several federal agencies funding for Fiscal 2020, beginning Oct. 1. The Department of Energy will have a budget of $37.1 billion, with $25 million allocated for the creation of the consolidated interim storage program.

Rep. Mike Levin, who represents California’s 49th District comprising the cities of San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano, lobbied for the $25 million that, if enacted, would pay for the initiation of the program, site preparation and the coordination of transporting the spent fuel.

Currently, the U.S. doesn’t have a permanent repository to store nuclear waste, as power plants have been responsible for the storage of their own spent fuel. Proposals to construct temporary storage sites in New Mexico and Texas are currently going through the application process, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Of the Energy Department’s appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year, $1.3 billion will be dedicated toward nuclear energy, including the storage program, as well as for the research and development of “next generation of clean and safe reactors,” according to the House Appropriations Committee.

DOE’s fiscal 2020 funds would also go to “further improve the safety and economic viability of our current reactor fleet and contribute to the nation’s long-term leadership in the global nuclear power industry,” the committee stated in a breakdown of the appropriations bill.

The appropriations package is currently awaiting action in the Senate.

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