A proposal by the federal Department of Energy to ship about 33,600 barrels of nuclear waste to the Idaho National Laboratory has sparked citizen outrage across southern Idaho and the Alliance’s Don’t Waste Idaho campaign. The proposed shipments could start coming from Hanford, Washington, as early as 2019, and could violate terms of Idaho’s 1995 Nuclear Waste Agreement.
Since April, the Alliance has raised concerns on the Don’t Waste Idaho.org website about the potential for these plutonium-contaminated materials to come to Idaho and remain here for years. The campaign has included public meetings, rallies and an online petition. Now, the Snake River Alliance has purchased advertising space on billboards across southern Idaho, encouraging people to call Idaho’s Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and stop nuclear waste. The recent rupture of a barrel of nuclear waste at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) highlights why Snake River Alliance is investing in a far-reaching public education campaign, Don’t Waste Idaho, to stop more shipments of nuclear waste to the Gem State.
Our goal is to stop the federal government from bringing in nuclear waste in violation of the 1995 Nuclear Settlement Agreement. The U.S. Department of Energy is proposing changes that would weaken the agreement —if the Idaho Governor and Attorney General agree to the new terms.
About Don’t Waste Idaho, former Governor Phil Batt said, “I’m grateful they are trying to get the agreement carried out. I want to stop any weakening of the agreement that I negotiated and signed with the federal government in 1995”.
Currently, INL stores hundreds of thousands of gallons of liquid nuclear waste, thousands of barrels of plutonium waste, and hundreds of tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel. The INL sits directly above the Snake River Plain Aquifer and the fresh water supply for over 1/5th of Idaho’s residents. The State of Idaho’s own research shows that the water beneath the INL – and the radioactive isotopes it contains – will flow to the Magic Valley within 150 to 250 years.
In the 1950s and ’60s, plutonium-contaminated waste from the Rocky Flats H-bomb plant was buried in unlined pits and trenches in the Arco Desert above the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. Much of that waste is being exhumed and processed for shipping to a permanent disposal site in N.M.
Now, the Department of Energy plans to change the 1995 agreement so large quantities of nuclear waste can be brought to Idaho. There are also plans to bring in very radioactive commercial fuel rods to INL for “research” from Byron, IL.
“When I learned that the federal government now wants to truck nuclear waste on I-84, right through Boise, I was horrified,” said Amber Labelle, a veterinary specialist who recently moved to the area and had no knowledge of Idaho’s nuclear waste issues. “As a mother and a scientist, I was shocked to learn about Idaho’s history of being used as a nuclear waste dump.”
Leslee Reed co-owns Onsen Farms in Buhl with her husband James Reed. As part of the Don’t Waste Idaho advisory board, they are calling on Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Gov. Butch Otter to make sure there is a clear plan for any additional nuclear waste that comes into Idaho leaving within one year.
“If we don’t enforce our existing agreement with the federal government, the Hanford waste could get stranded in Idaho and threaten our water,” said Leslee Reed.
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