Spending bill with nuke fuel recycling passes Senate



A spending bill that passed the Senate on Monday night includes $15 million to recycle spent naval nuclear fuel for use in advanced nuclear reactors.

The Senate voted 86-5 to pass three spending bills totaling $145 billion, including the $43.8 billion energy and water appropriations bill that funds the U.S. Department of Energy.

The “minibus” bill, so-called because Congress is passing smaller, separate spending bills this year rather than one of the catchall “omnibus” bills that have been used to fund the government in recent years, also funds congressional operations, military construction and veterans’ programs.

Tucked into the Energy bill is an amendment from Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., to fund research to take spent naval fuel, which still has about 80 percent of its fissile content, and blend the high-enriched uranium fuel to a lower level where it could be used in advanced reactors such as the small modular reactors planned for the Idaho National Laboratory site west of Idaho Falls.

The bill isn’t final yet. It goes now to a conference committee to work out the differences between the version that passed the Senate and the one that passed the House earlier in June.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.