1982 Scorecard Vote
Coughlin (R-PA) - Wolpe (D-MI) amendment to the Continuing Appropriations Resolution (H.J. Res. 631) to remove all funding for the Clinch River breeder. For years environmentalists have fought against this nuclear breeder reactor, which would produce massive quantities of plutonium, one of the most toxic substances there is. Unlike the byproducts of existing nuclear reactors, plutonium can easily be made into nuclear weapons by terrorists or foreign nations. Commercialization of breeder technology inevitably puts the ingredients of nuclear bombs into every day commerce, blurring the line between nuclear power and nuclear weapons.
Construction of the Clinch River breeder is more absurd today than ever before. When it was first proposed in 1970, the nuclear industry and the utilities agreed to pay more than half its estimated $400 million cost. Now the General Accounting Office says Clinch will cost more than $8.8 billion to build and operate for 5 years, while private interests will put up less than 3% of this cost. Moreover, breeder reactors were first proposed to provide plutonium fuel to nuclear power plants to replace the dwindling known supplies of uranium. But recently, huge new uranium discoveries have been made, while demand projections for nuclear power plants have decreased by 90%. The Washington Post recently editorialized that "as for the Clinch River breeder, now severely obsolete, the only serious case for it is that it would generate construction jobs in a state (Tennessee) represented in the Senate by the Majority Leader (Howard Baker)." Amendment adopted 217-196; December 14, 1982. YES is the pro-environmental vote. (A House-Senate Conference Committee provided money for continued site preparation and engineering activities but not for any new construction. Environmentalists will be trying again to kill this project in 1983.