Richardson will recommend veto on nuke waste bill

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Energy Secretary Bill Richardson says a nuclear waste bill approved by the Senate this week lacks environmental protections for Nevada.

The bill, which calls for bringing highly radioactive waste to Nevada by 2007 for temporary storage until a repository can be licensed and built at Yucca Mountain, is effectively dead for President Clinton's last year in office because proponents lack enough votes to override a promised veto.

Richardson said he will recommend Clinton veto the bill.

The bill would have set guidelines for completing the repository, including radiation standards, and moved up the date by three years for transporting waste to the site.

Richardson, in discussions with his advisory board at the agency's North Las Vegas office Friday, said the bill contains a ''toothless EPA standard'' that is inadequate for protecting Nevadans if the mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, is found to be suitable to hold the nation's nuclear waste.

''The bill that passed the Senate is a bad bill,'' he told the panel that includes former Gov. Bob Miller and 37 others nationwide. ''I had hoped we would be able to reach an agreement. I regret it,'' Richardson said.

''This bill unfortunately would have short-changed the state of Nevada and sound science,'' he said.

The bill was approved by the Senate on Thursday 64-34, three votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override Clinton's promised veto.

Richardson said negotiations over the bill's language were close to agreement on Feb. 5 but talks collapsed after special interests jumped in.


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