The latest test of the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) has failed. The IWTU was to have solidified INL’s last 900,000 gallons of liquid high-level waste in 2012, a key cleanup deadline in the 1995 Settlement Agreement. But the facility has yet to operate successfully, and each time it is tested – without radioactive waste – workers encounter a different set of major problems.
February 2017 was to have been the start of a series of increasingly long test runs. But the first run had to be aborted when one of the vessels supposed to hold and treat the liquid did not heat up properly – although the surrounding cell enclosure did. Now everything has to cool off before inspectors can go in and try to figure out what went wrong this time.
Some people believe it’s all right that the liquid waste is still in the buried tanks because the tanks haven’t leaked. But the pipes and valves around them have, and the soil surrounding the tank farm is some of the most contaminated at the Site. This winter’s weather reminds us that INL can’t cap the tank farm area until the waste has been removed. Every time it rains or snows, more of the waste in the soil is driven down toward water.
Shipments from INL to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant will begin in April after accidents in February 2014 closed the facility. It will be slow going. WIPP will accept 128 shipments in 2017, and 61 of those will come from Idaho. Our large share reflects both the precedence the 1995 Settlement Agreement gives the State as well as how much plutonium-contaminated weapons waste ended up here. But WIPP plans to accept only 34 shipments in 2018 because the waste hoist that lowers barrels into the repository needs major repairs. INL currently has more than 900 shipments of contact-handled waste and more than 200 shipments of remote-handled waste that is ready to certify for WIPP disposal.
The Alliance is searching for a dedicated and enthusiastic Program Associate to join our staff in Boise. Help us protect Idaho and build a new world with 100%, safe, clean and renewable energy. View the Job Description on our website. To apply send resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 20, 2017.
Tickets Available Now. The second “Holding What Can’t be Held” exhibition at the MING Studio in Boise is sponsored by the Alliance in partnership with artists working together as The Feeling Body . If you have ever wanted to tour the Idaho National Laboratory but weren’t sure if you should – please come see this exhibition.
Each year Alliance members tour the INL to see some of the lesser known sights behind the basic public tours. We have been given access to see — but not photograph — sensitive areas at INL including the partially-melted reactor core from Three-mile Island and Superfund clean up operations in areas of nuclear contamination.
The whole experience is hard to express without being allowed to take photos. So, The Feeling Body has taken small groups of artists out to the desert and asked them to share their experience through their art. The public can now view the results at the MING Studio in Boise, through February 4th.
On February 3rd the Alliance and MING will sponsor a Closing Dinner with the artists. Tickets are available for this exciting event. Many pieces from the show will be available to purchase that evening. Proceeds will go to a special Snake River Alliance fund to support Art and Activism and launch next year’s project with The Feeling Body.
What effect will a Trump Administration have on this country’s nuclear power, waste, and weapons policies?
“Prospects for a rational approach are not bright.” That’s the conclusion of Dan Yurman, who worked at the Idaho National Laboratory for 20 years and now writes a widely read pro-nuclear blog, Neutron Bytes.
Donald Trump has nominated Rick Perry, the governor of Texas for 15 years, to be Secretary of Energy. Texas is home to Pantex, where nuclear weapons are put together and taken apart, and Waste Control Specialists (WCS), a nuclear waste dump Mr. Perry helped expand. But neither he nor members of the Trump transition team have seemed particularly aware that DOE does not mean just oil and gas. In fact, 68 percent of the DOE budget is for nuclear weapons, nuclear contamination cleanup, and nuclear power.
There have been some signs that members of the Trump team are worried about nuclear power plants closing prematurely. Mr. Trump has said he supports nuclear power, but his climate change denial undercuts the main argument nuclear proponents have been making to try to save the industry: Nuclear power’s low carbon profile helps combat climate change.
If you care about clean energy, the Snake River Alliance is for you. The Alliance advocates on all the issues you care about — including nuclear. We promote clean energy, help people conserve and adopt renewable energy, and support grassroots action. Thank you for being a member of the Alliance!
Here is a new way to help: Each year the Alliance mails thousands of renewal letters. Too many are lost or tossed by our members and supporters. Now we have a way that you can build the financial stability of the Alliance and reduce waste.
How: Sign up as a “Recurring Donor” and allow the Alliance to receive your membership fees directly – online and paper-free – every year, every quarter,or every month.
Why? To help us save staff time, postage and paper. As a Recurring Donor you will get fewer membership mailings (down to one a year) and can modify or cancel your recurring gift at any time.
For 37 years the Alliance has been here for our members. We are always looking to improve our efficiency. Please let me know how to serve you better.
Wendy Wilson, Executive Director