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NASHVILLE - Senate Environment Committee members today approved legislation that the bill's sponsor, Chattanooga Sen. Andy Berke, says will stop 20,000 tons of foreign nuclear waste from being stranded in Tennessee.

The bill bans a practice known as "downblending" in which highly toxic and radioactive "Class B" or "Class C" waste is blended with less harmful "Class A" waste in an attempt to classify the waste as Class A.

"We're one step closer to ensuring that Tennessee doesn't become the world's nuclear dumping ground," Sen. Berke, D-Chattanooga, said in a news release. "I applaud the members of the Senate Environment Committee who placed the safety of Tennessee families ahead of the financial interests of one Utah-based nuclear waste company."

The bill passed on a 5-4 vote and, barring unforeseen circumstances, would go to the Senate floor. The House version remains in a subcommittee.

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