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Electric utilities #1 job is to keep the lights on.

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) wants to build 12 nuclear reactors at the Idaho National Laboratory that would produce a total of 720 MW. But the advantages of these small modular reactors (SMR) haven’t been proven in real life, and some of their supporters’ claims don’t even pencil out on paper. So UAMPS is having trouble selling the idea to its own member utilities, and fewer than 200 MW have been spoken for. That number may be shrinking even more as Logan, Utah, reconsiders its initial expression of interest.

That’s good news for US taxpayers’ money and Idaho’s water.

Nov 2 2018

A Cry Out for Idaho

Written by Gail Luedtke, Magic Valley

It was with a heavy heart and a very alert mind that I read Idaho National Laboratory’s (INL) Dr. Mark Peters’ comments in the Sunday, October 14 Magic Valley Times Newspaper. He portrayed a beautiful picture of life for Idahoans with exuberance for INL establishing the first fast neutron source reactor in Idaho, which he offhandedly referred to as sitting on 890 square miles of desert. He conveniently forgot to mention that underneath the desert lies the Snake River Plain aquifer, which encompasses 15,600 square miles and supplies our drinking water.

The newest “grand” plan is to make the Idaho National Laboratory the “test site” for the first ever small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) in America. Nuclear reactors need water to act as a coolant and the more reactors, the more water needed. The INL currently has most of their wells operating at 1200 feet deep, yielding up to 7000 gallons per minute. Comparatively, Twin Falls County yields up to 3300 gallons per minute with wells up to 1500 feet deep (source USGS). How will these new nuclear reactors affect water usage in the area?

Utahns who are resistant to this proposal have questioned the issue of new commercial radioactive waste – the safe disposal of which has long plagued the commercial industry. These reactors will be installed below ground with an additional area below ground for spent rods to cool off. The waste will inevitably be left at the INL site in Idaho, building up over the years. And all of this will reside over our aquifer. As Murray, Utah City Council Chair Diane Turner stated, “Once you have nuclear, you always have nuclear.”

These concerns from Utah should be coming from Idahoans. Are we just asleep at the wheel? Why are we considering investing in nuclear energy, especially in light of other cost-effective technologies? Our current Senators Risch and Crapo, as well as U.S. House Representative Simpson, all believe this is the best thing since sliced bread. Do you?

SMRs were the brainchild of an Oregon scientist who works for an Oregon based company, NuScale. The nuclear reactors placed at INL will be owned by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems and operated by Energy Northwest (based in Washington). The electricity will be used in Utah and other areas outside of Idaho. And these decisions are being made in Washington, D.C., which has targeted Idaho as the only viable place for nuclear expansion.

Ummm, why are these decisions being made without local, public opinions and for those outside of Idaho to benefit? What does Idaho get from this? We lose valuable water resources, risk a nuclear accident with untested technology, endanger our aquifer, and become the nuclear waste dump for the country (something Nevadans fought relentlessly to prevent becoming).

When it comes to nuclear there is no room for mistakes and no room for 2nd chances. Idahoans need to fight against SMRs, keeping nuclear power as a thing of the past not the future.

Written by Eilen Jewell.

On September 8th, my band and I performed a backyard benefit concert for the Snake River Alliance. Patricia and Liz Young, along with neighbor Sarah Lunstrum of Dream Farm Flowers, were kind enough to host us in their homes and their beautiful shared outdoor space. The weather was perfect, the flowers were divine, and the food, beer and wine were delightful. (Thank you Three Girls Catering, Lost Grove Brewing, and Indian Creek Winery!)

Yet I think what struck me the most about that evening was the audience. Each and every individual who attended brought a spirit of cooperation and optimism. Together we raised a sizable sum. It really hit home that evening just how much the Snake River Alliance is embraced by a community of thoughtful, big-hearted people. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’ve known many of them all my life and have been attending SRA dinners since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. But, as a new board member, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It was the end of a long and exhausting summer tour for me and my band, and this marks the official end of a long stint living far away from Idaho. I couldn’t think of a more suitable homecoming.

Thanks so very much to all who attended and to all who donated items and services. And, to those who couldn’t make it this time around, let’s hope for next time. I’m already looking forward to doing it again soon and to getting to know more of this community of amazing individuals.

After numerous disclosures about releases and discharges from the US nuclear weapons complex that harmed public health and safety, Congress created the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) in 1988. Its statutory mission is to “provide independent analysis, advice, and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy to inform the Secretary, in the role of the Secretary as operator and regulator of the defense nuclear facilities of the Department of Energy, in providing adequate protection of public health and safety at defense nuclear facilities.”

Though the Board is far more active at DOE’s current nuclear weapons facilities, it plays a role at the Idaho National Laboratory. For instance, it monitors the progress, or lack thereof, at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit, which has thus far failed to solidify INL’s liquid high-level waste.

The DNFSB’s ability to provide adequate oversight would be compromised if the Department of Energy succeeds in limiting its access to information. The Snake River Alliance always comes down on the side of government openness, and we joined our colleagues in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability to push back on DOE Order 2401.1. You can read more at http://www.ananuclear.org/the-nuclear-free-frontpage/2018/8/26/ana-sends-letter-to-sec-perry-in-defense-of-dnfsb and https://www.propublica.org/article/nuclear-safety-board-slams-energy-department-plan-to-weaken-oversight.

BOISE, Idaho (August 23rd, 2018) — 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. 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, citizen concerns have been raised on Don’t Waste Idaho.org 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.

Tracy Andrus, daughter of former Governor Cecil D. Andrus, is an advisor to the Don’t Waste Idaho campaign. “My father spent his life trying to keep Idaho from becoming the nation’s nuclear waste dumping ground,” said Andrus.

“The Department of Energy has been trying to circumvent Governor Batt’s agreement since the ink was dry. We need Attorney General Wasden to stand firm. Any backing away from our hard-won protections could open the door for long-term storage of everyone else’s nuclear waste above the drinking water of most of southern Idaho.”

Julie Hoefnagels, president of the board of the Snake River Alliance, has carried petitions to farmers’ markets and other events. “We’ve talked with lots of folks across the state who are worried,” said Hoefnagels. “Many people don’t know the history here. Hundreds of tons of nuclear waste were dumped in Idaho over decades, and liquid waste was even pumped into the aquifer. We are still in the middle of a $20 billion Idaho cleanup project. If Idaho doesn’t enforce our existing agreement, the Hanford waste could end up staying here as well.”

Wendy Wilson, executive director of Snake River Alliance, says transporting the plutonium-laced waste from Hanford across Oregon and Idaho could also be dangerous. “We haven’t received detailed information about how they propose to move these materials. Much of this waste is uncharacterized and potentially flammable. If there is a truck accident on a public highway, it could be just about anybody’s family in the next lane.”

The group has collected more than 2,000 petition signatures urging Attorney General Wasden to hold the Department of Energy to the terms of the 1995 Nuclear Waste Settlement Agreement and ensure the federal government cleans up the nuclear waste above the Snake River Aquifer.

“This is not a problem our Attorney General should be facing alone. We hope Idaho legislators, mayors and city council members will also stand up and voice their concerns,” said Wilson.

The Snake River Alliance raised funds online for six billboards in Boise and Twin Falls.

ABOUT Don’t Waste Idaho is supported by the Snake River Alliance, Idaho’s grassroots nuclear watchdog and clean energy advocate. The campaign’s Advisory group includes: Former aide to Democratic Governor Cecil Andrus Marc Johnson, Tracy Andrus of Eagle, Former state Representative Donna Pence (D-Gooding), Buhl-based farmers Leslee and James Reed, Twin Falls City Councilman Chris Talkington and Gary Richardson of Boise. Learn more at DontWasteIdaho.com or by calling (208) 344 9161.