Congressional negotiators have decided to scrap a nuclear research reactor program, although the Senate earlier had agreed to continue it.
Lawmakers from the House and Senate decided to provide $83.8 million to terminate the advanced liquid-metal-reactor research program. The Clinton administration had asked the program be ended, fearing it could lead to nuclear proliferation.The action reflects the views of the House, which also had voted to discontinue the program in fiscal 1995. The project is being conducted at Argonne National Laboratory facilities in Chicago and Idaho. The Senate had provided nearly $100 million to continue the program.
The measure is part of a $20.7 billion appropriation approved by the House-Senate conferees on Thursday. The bill funds defense and civilian energy research, nuclear-waste cleanup and water proj-ects.
Critics of the reactor program argued that it is too expensive and could lead to nuclear proliferation. But supporters defended it as a potential way to dispose of plutonium left over from nuclear warheads and spent nuclear fuel. The reactor essentially would burn the plutonium and could also produce commercial electricity.
The action by the House and Senate negotiators won praise from other environmental and nuclear proliferation watchdog groups who saw the research reactor leading to the re-emergence of a breeder-reactor program and wider use of plutonium.
"This is triumph of taxpayer common sense over pork-barrel politics," said Scott Denman of the Safe Energy Communication Coun-cil, an anti-nuclear proliferation group.