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A proposal to recycle spent naval nuclear fuel for use in advanced nuclear reactors passed the full Senate on Wednesday.

The $15 million amendment to the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which was backed by Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., was adopted by the full Senate on an 87-9 vote.

The amendment funds research to take spent naval fuel, which still has about 80 percent of its fissile content, and blend the high-enriched uranium fuel to a lower level where it could be used in advanced reactors such as the small modular reactors planned for the Idaho National Laboratory site west of Idaho Falls.

“This bipartisan collaboration will keep Idaho and the work being done at Idaho National Lab at the forefront of new innovation and use of nuclear energy,” Crapo said in a statement. “By reusing spent fuel to power advanced reactors, we can supply the inputs necessary for critical research initiatives, such as those at the INL, and provide a cost-saving and environmental service by reducing the amount of spent waste otherwise stored or cleaned up.”

Crapo and Risch both said there is bipartisan agreement in Congress that expanded use of nuclear power should be part of America’s energy future.

“As our nation’s nuclear energy lab, I am confident that the men and women at the Idaho National Lab will pioneer the next generation of advanced nuclear reactors,” Risch said.

Debate is expected to continue on the Energy and Water bill later this week.

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