Today's Paper State News Hutchinson 2024 LEARNS Guide Newsletters Opinion Sports Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

Senate approves measure laying groundwork for recycling facility for spent nuclear fuel

by Michael R. Wickline | March 10, 2023 at 4:29 a.m.
Sen. Clint Penzo, R-Springdale, answers questions about House Bill 1142, which is aimed at laying the groundwork for the construction of a recycling facility for spent nuclear fuel in Arkansas, during the Senate session Thursday at the state Capitol in Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

The Arkansas Senate on Thursday handily approved legislation aimed at laying the groundwork for the construction of a recycling facility for spent nuclear fuel in Arkansas.

The Senate voted 26-2 to send House Bill 1142 by Rep. Jack Ladyman, R-Jonesboro, to Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The bill would allow state officials to develop plans, analyze potential construction sites, conduct outreach and conduct other work. By completing the planning, Arkansas could generate 6,200 jobs and tap into a $51 billion federal fund, according to Ladyman.

The bill builds off of legislation enacted in 2021 that required the House and Senate committees on public health, welfare and labor to conduct a joint study on the commercial application of existing technology to reclaim and repurpose spent nuclear fuel rods.

The recycling plant would require a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, but Ladyman said the capacity of the facility would be less than that of the Arkansas Nuclear One power plant, which is home to two nuclear reactors.

Ladyman said he expected the recycling plant to take spent fuel from Arkansas Nuclear One. The nuclear recycling plant would be part of a research and development project intended to show the feasibility and commercial viability of reclaiming nuclear fuels.

The bill would authorize the state Department of Energy and Environment to identify applicable federal standards for shipping, recycling and storing spent nuclear fuel. The department also would be expected to secure federal funding to study the technical and economic feasibility and commercial viability of the interim storage and recycling of spent nuclear fuel at locations in Arkansas.

Based on results of the study, the department would have to develop appropriate time frames and conditions the state would have to meet before launching its project.

The state Division of Environmental Quality would be responsible for, among other tasks, securing a federal charter for the project, studying potential sites, performing viability research and conducting analysis. The division also would have to present its findings to lawmakers, which would lead to hearings on the studies and the development of recommendations to the governor.

The bill would task the University of Arkansas with conducting a public outreach and education program to gather public opinion on the storage and recycling facility. The university would have to present its report to the Arkansas Legislative Council and potentially endow a chair to develop a nuclear science and engineering program.

The bill would allow entities included in the federal charter to develop construction documents, update cost data and establish a schedule for the construction to be completed with a national laboratory.

Information for this article was contributed by Will Langhorne of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Print Headline: Senate OKs bill with prospect of plant recycling nuclear fuel


Sponsor Content