Nevada Test Site

Message posted by Hank on May 11, 2002 at 10:10:55 PST:

Thought this may be of interest to some:

Copyright Las Vegas Review-Journal

Test site training center may get boost
Committee OKs funds for counterterrorism


WASHINGTON -- The Nevada Test Site has been put on a path in Congress toward a substantial increase in funding for counterterrorism training.

The Senate Armed Services Committee this week authorized $50 million to be spent next year at the test site to train emergency responders in handling possible situations involving nuclear, biological or chemical attacks.

That amount is a five-fold increase over current spending for counterterrorism programs at the Nevada range and also five times what the Bush administration had requested for next year.

The funding was written into the committee's annual defense authorization bill, which now goes to the Senate floor.

"The support of the Armed Services Committee is an encouraging indication of support for the National Center for Combating Terrorism," said Sen. Harry Reid, using a name he is trying to get President Bush to designate at the test site.

Reid, D-Nev., has campaigned for dramatic increases in test site counterterrorism spending since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and worked to arrange the defense bill line item.

Reid has called for between $50 million and $60 million in annual counterterrorism spending at the site. The National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages the test site, had requested $69.6 million during internal Bush administration budget talks.

The Senate committee action is an early stage in the bill process, although once line items are inserted they generally survive to final passage. Once authorized, the program would need funding to be appropriated by Congress in a separate bill.

The House bill contains $37.4 million for programs at Nellis Air Force Base, according to Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev. Among Nellis funding are $6.9 million for an ordnance disposal facility; $3.2 million for an F-22 munitions maintenance hangar; $12.3 for a dormitory, and $15 million for land acquisition to expand a base buffer zone.

The House bill also contains $4 million to test a reprocessing method for plutonium extracted from nuclear weapons. Gibbons said the money would support the efforts of Thorium Power, a Washington-based firm testing the process in Russia.

Gibbons said he is among lawmakers intrigued by emerging thorium fuel technology, which its proponents say generates 40 percent less waste plus less radioactive byproducts than conventional uranium fuel..

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