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The Success of “Don’t Waste Idaho”

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Former Governors Phil Batt and Cecil Andrus fought long and hard with the federal government to craft the 1995 Nuclear Settlement Agreement. Today, the Department of Energy still hasn’t met many important deadlines, and even worse, there’s talk in some places of loosening the Agreement so the DOE can send more out-of-state waste to Idaho.

The Snake River Alliance launched the Don’t Waste Idaho campaign and stopped this from happening! Over the last six months, the Alliance rallied public opposition to DOE’s proposal to ship nuclear waste from Hanford, Washington for treatment at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project in Idaho. The plutonium-laden waste could endanger our roadways and end up stranded in Idaho for decades.

The Alliance thanks our Don’t Waste Idaho advisory committee members for their help, including Gary Richardson, James and Leslee Reed, former State Legislator Donna Pence, Twin Falls Councilman Chris Talkington, Governor Andrus’ Chief of Staff Marc Johnson, and Andrus’ daughter Tracy Andrus. We also want to thank the marketing firm Oliver Russell of Boise for their help building the campaign plan, launching the Don’t Waste Idaho website, and placing Don’t Waste Idaho billboards in both Boise and Twin Falls.

A really fun part of the campaign was our “Nuclear Waste Roadshow,” fake radioactive waste barrels (Thank you, Tim Norton!) that traveled on a trailer donated by Dorian Duffin. The Roadshow got a lot of attention as it went down I-84 to farmer’s markets, rallies, educational forums, and other events across Southern Idaho. It was even in Boise’s 4th of July Parade alongside a horde of “Nuclearized Zombies”!

The Don’t Waste Idaho campaign held many successful outreach and educational events that raised the level of public concern about nuclear waste to new heights. There are now more people across Idaho who are educated about nuclear waste – and speaking out about it! We generated dozens of Letters to the Editors, Guest Opinions and newspaper articles. We received TV coverage of one of our rallies and two press conferences, with a clip of one going national. Enough political pressure was generated by our campaign that many candidates and leaders came out against DOE’s proposal.or pledged to uphold the 1995 Agreement. In the end, the campaign generated hundreds of calls and letters to Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden in support of Idaho’s 1995 Nuclear Settlement Agreement. Volunteers even delivered 3,000 petition signatures and about 40 recorded comments to him personally!

Six months ago, we thought the Department of Energy would not listen to our concerns. It seemed like it was a “done deal” that 33,000 barrels of plutonium-laced waste would come into Idaho (even as early as January 2019!) But the DOE has cancelled the project! We are thankful that the Hanford waste is not coming to Idaho and thankful to the many volunteers across the state who worked so hard to make Don’t Waste Idaho a success!  

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