North Dakota Senate approves nuclear waste storage bill

BISMARCK -- A bill related to high-level radioactive waste received support on Friday, Feb. 15, in the North Dakota Senate.

Senate Bill 2037 sets up a framework for how the state would respond if the federal government ever designates North Dakota as a repository for nuclear waste.

“This bill and its amendments are not an attempt to move nuclear waste to North Dakota,” said Sen. Jim Roers, R-Fargo, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The bill also outlines a process for permitting and regulating the storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste. It advanced with a 42-3 vote.

The North Dakota Community Alliance, a group of Pierce County citizens who have been following developments with nuclear waste storage and disposal, worked to promote amendments to the bill to better protect public safety. The group became engaged in 2016 after the U.S. Department of Energy proposed to drill an exploratory borehole near Rugby.

The bill approved Friday includes many, but not all, of the group’s suggestions.

Sen. Jessica Unruh, R-Beulah, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the public will have another opportunity to provide input after the bill moves to the House.