|D'Amato Calls for Permanent Closure
Senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) and Representative Michael Forbes (R-NY) introduced companion bills which would prevent the Department of Energy (DOE) from reactivating the High Flux Beam Reactor located at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Both S. 1140 and H.R. 2384 were introduced in early September in response to DOE's closure of the facility upon discovery of tritium leaking from its spent fuel storage pool. In his press release Sen. D'Amato stated, "It must be decommissioned and we must end any threat it poses to the health of Sulloflk County residents." Forbes' statement cited similiar concerns over environmental, health and safety problems.
Brookhaven National Laboratory, which is located in Forbes' district in Long Island, discovered the leakage in December 1996. Incoming Secretary of Energy, Federico Peña responded to the discovery by requesting that the High Flux Beam Reactor be closed for inspection. Peña also requested that DOE's Office of Energy Research develop an action plan to improve the management and safety of the facility. The action plan was distributed to scientists and local residents near the laboratory for review and comment. A final decision on whether to reactivate the reactor is expected from Secretary Peña in early 1998.
The High Flux Beam Reactor is one of only four neutron scattering facilities
in the United States. D'Amato's and Forbes' companion legislation prompted
a letter from the American Physical Society (APS) urging Congress not to
permanently close the facility. The letter was signed by Dr. D. Allan Bromley,
former Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy during the
Bush Administration and past President of the American Physical Society.
Secretary Peña's reponse to the bills was to reemphasize that DOE
is not "charging headlong" into reopening the facility and will make a
decision once all the facts have been gathered by DOE, reviewed by scientists,
and discussed with the public.