1983 Scorecard Vote
For years environmentalists fought against this very dangerous nuclear power project, and in 1983 we finally won. Nuclear breeder reactors produce massive amounts of plutonium, one of the most toxic substances known. Unlike the by-products of existing nuclear reactors, plutonium can be used by terrorists or by foreign nations to make nuclear bombs. Commercialization of nuclear breeder technologies could put the ingredients of nuclear bombs into every day commerce, and speed up the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Moreover, the core of the breeder generates tremendous heat and is usually cooled with liquid sodium, which can explode or burn on contact with air or water.
The vote is on the Humphrey motion to kill a last ditch effort to continue federal support for the Clinch River breeder. When Clinch was first proposed in 1970, the nuclear industry agreed to pay more than half its estimated cost of $400 million. But as costs escalated into the billions, they cut back their pledge to a mere 3%. In 1983 the Senate Appropriations Committee tried to provide $2.5 billion in construction money for the Clinch River breeder, under a bogus "cost sharing plan." Private interests were to put up $1 billion and government would supply the rest. But in reality, the private financing would have been entirely underwritten and guaranteed by Uncle Sam, in such a way that government, through lost tax revenues, would still have paid for nearly everything.
Humphrey motion agreed to 56-40; October 26, 1983. YES is the pro-environmental vote. (Humphrey motion to table the Senate Appropriations Committee amendment to the fiscal 1984 Supplemental Appropriations bill, H.R. 3959.) The Reagan Administration opposed the Humphrey motion. This along with a similar vote in the House killed federal support for the Clinch River nuclear breeder.