Last updated: September 19. 2013 4:37PM - 880 Views
Associated Press



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(AP) The Senate has approved a bill to avert an impending shutdown of the federal helium reserve, a key supplier of the lighter-than-air gas used in a wide range of products, from party balloons to MRI machines.


The Federal Helium Program, which provides about 42 percent of the nation's helium from a storage site in Texas, is to shut down Oct. 7 as a result of a 1996 law requiring the reserve to pay off a debt by selling its helium.


The debt is paid, but billions of cubic feet of helium remain. Closing the reserve would cause a worldwide helium shortage an outcome lawmakers from both parties hope to avoid.


The bill the Senate passed Thursday differs slightly from a House-approved bill. President Barack Obama favors the Senate version.


Associated Press
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