Thursday's House Science and Technology Committee's vote to proceed with construction of the liquid metal fast breeder nuclear reactor at Clinch River was a significant setback to a rational and responsible nuclear energy policy. In spite of forceful leadership by the committee's chairman, Don Fuqua, the members of the committee voted to force continuation of spending at a rate of $15 million per month, or more, for this unneeded project.
The Clinch River breeder reactor is technically unsound. It is a waste of more than 1 1/2 billion of our taxpayers' dollars. It is inconsistent with our nonproliferation policy.
During a time when our attention should be riveted on improving the safety and operation procedures of the light water reactor technology which we now use, the debate over the Clinch River breeder reactor spurred on by special interests has diverted our time and resources toward a new and unnecessary plutonium technology. I have proposed an orderly and scientifically sound breeder research and development program which will make this technology available to us if and when it is needed.
Now we do not need the Clinch River breeder reactor, which was originally undertaken as a crash program to commercialize plutonium breeder reactors. Corners were cut, and designs have been locked into place without the benefit of the scientific improvements which research continues to make available.
We have plenty of time to develop a safe, efficient, technically sound, and proliferation-resistant breeder design. We have an immediate need to make needed assessments of and improve the safety of our current nuclear technology, which the Three Mile Island accident shows are so vitally needed. We do not need to decide now to build a plant based on a wholly new technology about which far less is known than the nuclear reactors we now use.
I want to repeat my longstanding and consistent request to the Congress to deny the strong efforts of the big utilities and energy companies and to terminate the Clinch River breeder reactor. We have a far more immediate task at hand—putting our existing nuclear power policies in order.
I will continue to oppose the construction of this unnecessary, wasteful, and unsound project on the House floor and in the Senate. I urge all those who share my concerns to make their voices heard.