Letter to the Chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal

June 16, 1983

Dear Mr. Chairman:

In accordance with the requirements of the Department of Energy National Security and Military Applications of Nuclear Energy Authorization Act of 1982, I am submitting to the Committee a reference plan on the permanent disposal of nuclear wastes resulting from atomic energy defense activities prepared by the Department of Energy.

As you know, this Administration is strongly committed to putting in place the means for disposing of nuclear wastes. Earlier this year I signed into law the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. In addition, construction will begin in South Carolina this fall of a large scale plant to solidify nuclear waste. This plant, to be completed in 1989, will encapsulate nuclear waste in a form suitable for final disposal in a future underground repository. Also, once the necessary approvals are obtained, we plan to move ahead with full construction of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. This research and development facility is intended to demonstrate the safe disposal of radioactive waste from national defense programs.

Your Committee has supported our resolve to address this seemingly intractable problem, and I welcome your continued support.

The Plan I am submitting will provide a valuable context for use by the Administration and the Congress in considering defense nuclear waste activities to be proposed in future years. It is important to note, however, that the Plan has not been subjected to the normal budget review process of the Executive Branch. The future activities covered in this document can be regarded as logical sequential steps. But the precise timing and scope of the disposal activities to be pursued need to be considered as part of the annual budget process.

For the near term, we will continue to store existing wastes in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

Sincerely,

Ronald Reagan

Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to John Tower, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Melvin Price, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

The reference plan is entitled ``The Defense Waste Management Plan, April 1983.''