Says proposal would eliminate nation’s only supply of tritium for nuclear weapons, in addition to increase costs in power
Posted on April 24, 2013
“You might suggest to the president’s advisers that if he’s going to sell the agency that produces tritium – all of the tritium for our nuclear weapons system – he might get some advice from the Department of Energy before he does so,” Lamar Alexander
WASHINGTON, April 24 – In a hearing of a subcommittee overseeing the Department of Energy’s budget, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said President Obama should seek the advice of his own energy experts on his proposal to sell the Tennessee Valley Authority, given its importance in producing nuclear weapons and other “national missions.”
Alexander, who is the lead Republican, or Ranking Member, of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, asked department officials to confirm whether TVA was the nation’s only current source of tritium, an important component in the production of nuclear weapons. He said sale to a private utility could endanger that purpose, as well as work on technology such as small modular reactors that would advance the use of nuclear energy.
“Is the Obama administration really going to sell TVA?” Alexander asked at the committee hearing on the department’s budget. “You might suggest to the president’s advisers that if he’s going to sell the agency that produces tritium – all of the tritium for our nuclear weapons system – he might get some advice from the Department of Energy before he does so.”
The officials, including Neile Miller, acting administrator for the department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, confirmed TVA’s importance to nuclear weapons product, and said they had not personally been consulted on the matter. Though her portion of the budget is related to defense, Miller said other areas of the department may have been consulted.
Alexander continued, “I would think that the Department of Energy would want to give advice to the administration about thinking through any proposal to sell our only producer of tritium.”
The senator previously said selling TVA was “one more bad idea in a budget full of bad ideas” that President Obama has proposed to Congress. TVA receives no federal taxpayer subsidy, and Alexander said that after deducting its debt “selling TVA would probably cost taxpayers money” and “could lead to higher electricity rates” for Tennesseans.
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