WASHINGTON, DC –- U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., today introduced the Spent Nuclear Fuel Control and Accounting Act of 2006 to improve the safety and security of spent nuclear fuel generated by our nation's nuclear power plants. U.S. Senator Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., is co-sponsoring the Jeffords bill. Companion legislation is also being introduced today by Congressman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. The proposed legislation would require more effective control and accounting of spent nuclear fuel by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as recommended by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and other organizations. It would help prevent incidents of lost spent nuclear fuel like the one that occurred at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in 2004 and other plants in recent years. Approximately 2,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel are generated by the nation’s 103 nuclear power plants each year. Spent nuclear fuel is no longer efficient enough to generate power but is still intensely radioactive and continues to generate heat for tens of thousands of years. Radiation produced by the fuel can kill a person within minutes if directly exposed. Terrorist attacks in the U.S. have heightened public concern about whether this highly radioactive material could be stolen and used maliciously. The potential for harm to human health and the environment warrants close attention to the control and accounting of this material. “This bill will be an important step towards improving security related to one of the most hazardous materials made by humans -- spent nuclear fuel,” said Jeffords, the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “We must increase the scrutiny on the tracking of this material and ensure that spent nuclear fuel remains safely stored in appropriate facilities and does not end up in the wrong hands.” Specifically, this legislation calls for the NRC to pay special attention to loose individual spent fuel rods and rod fragments like those lost at the Vermont Yankee plant. The legislation would require the NRC to report when loose fuel rods and fragments result from the loading or dismantling of a fuel assembly. It would require the NRC to conduct annual inspections to make sure that plants are complying with waste tracking requirements. Additionally, the bill instructs NRC to develop best management practices for the safe storage of individual rods and fragments and for the inventory of spent nuclear fuel. The legislation would require NRC to modernize its data management systems by developing an updated electronic system for storing data and for tracking spent nuclear fuel. This would help secure information from aging plants that are being uprated and also require the new fleet of plants to use a uniform electronic system. Finally, the bill would track the movement of spent nuclear fuel onsite at nuclear power plants and offsite to other facilities by requiring that manifests indicate whether shipments contain fuel rods or fragments.