The North Dakota Senate easily passed a bill setting up the state’s rules for dealing with any proposed disposal of high-level radioactive waste.
Senate Bill 2037 moves on now to the House, where legislators say the public will get a chance to comment on it.
The bill includes several amendments championed by the North Dakota Community Alliance – a group set up after Pierce County officials repelled a federal plan to test an area near Rugby for possible future nuclear waste storage.
Members of the group say there have been good steps in giving counties a say in what might happen if they’re targeted to be a waste disposal site.
(Stephanie Steinke, North Dakota Community Alliance) “If and when this would ever happen to any county in the state, they would have the option of having a seat at the table to kind of arrange their own economic future.”
(Dallas Hager, North Dakota Community Alliance) “We’ve made progress, there’s been some good progress. Are we as far as we’d like to be? No, we’re not quite there yet, but we’re going to keep working on it.”
The bill will be taken up in a House committee after crossover – when bills switch chambers at the mid-point of the legislative session.
So why is North Dakota a possible target for the federal government for the disposal of nuclear waste?
The answer is below your feet.
The state is sitting on the right combination of geological features and relative seismic stability that adds up to an attractive location for dangerous materials to be buried.
In addition, the state has a sparse population.
(Stephanie Steinke, North Dakota Community Alliance) “All those things have been documented in previous Department of Energy paperwork about the sparse population and very stable geology, so those are things that keep us working on the bill.”
(Jim Olson, KX News) “And keep us at the top of the list?”
(Stephanie Steinke, North Dakota Community Alliance) “And that’s why we keep working on the bill because those things, they’re not going to change.”
There are not currently any federal plans for nuclear waste disposal in North Dakota, but legislators consider the bill now under consideration as a way for the state to have a formal response to any such plan that might arise.