The Democrat wants the federal Department of Energy to expedite its purchases from RHI Monofrax in Falconer, a company that has a contract with the department to provide it $75 million worth of materials to clean up nuclear waste.
But Schumer's concerned that the department only has plans to order the product in small installments over the next quarter century.
"The Department of Energy is stretching out work that would take, in total about three or four years to a 25-year period," Schumer said as he spoke to employees and members of the media covering his visit.
As a result of this extended timeframe and limitation, the company’s resources are tied up in this federal contract, which makes them less profitable and in turn makes it more difficult to maintain employment.
As of now, the firm says it has to devote about 20 percent of its production resources to this project. Schumer says the delays are hurting the company and its 250 jobs.
This schedule must be sped up, so that RHI Monofrax can meet production demands and help with the disposal of nuclear waste across the country, Schumer said.
If the Department of Energy fails to fast-track this procurement, Western New York could lose the ability to complete the order on time while nuclear cleanup sites are left with undisposed nuclear waste, and the Department of Energy could be left with a larger bill, he added.
In his letter to Secretary Steven Chu, Schumer noted that over the next 25 years the DOE will need to order roughly $75 million worth of glass contact materials (Monofrax K-3 and Monofrax E) from RHI Monofrax.
The Falconer firm has spent the past three decades researching and testing production methods to become the only approved glass contact refractory material supplier for all domestic nuclear vitrification processes supported by the DOE.
It’s in the Department of Energy’s best interest to expedite the purchase of this product, as it would provide greater stability for both DOE and RHI, Schumer said.
Given that it took nearly thirty years for RHI to get certified to provide this product, it could take DOE decades to find another producer of this critical material if RHI were unable to remain open.
Without RHI Monofrax, it would be incredibly difficult for DOE to make progress on a number of nuclear clean-up sites across the country, including Hanford, Washington where cleanup efforts of the estimated 56 million gallons of radioactive nuclear waste stored at the facility are underway, according to Schumer.