May 21, 2010
CONTACT: Snake River Alliance
Andrea Shipley, executive director
208-344-9161 (w); 208-514-8713 (c)

Toxic Party in Idaho

BOISE, ID—On the eve of a visit from Tea Party activist Sarah Palin, the Department of Energy announced a $2 billion bailout for the French-owned Areva to build a uranium enrichment factory outside of Idaho Falls.

Snake River Alliance executive director Andrea Shipley said, “People across the United States are furious about government bailouts. Among the most vocal opponents have been Tea Party activists. We are curious about whether we will hear justified outrage from the spokes people in Idaho and from Sarah Palin about this $2 billion nuclear bailout.”

Areva proposes to build its uranium factory on the upstream end of the Snake River Aquifer a few miles east of the Idaho National Laboratory. INL’s nuclear activities have already contaminated the aquifer and have left substantial radioactive waste behind. Addressing these environmental challenges has already cost billions of taxpayer dollars and will continue for decades.

“Areva is going to create depleted uranium, a waste that increases in radioactivity over time and currently has no pathway for disposal. It will have taken its profits back to France by the time it needs to clean up its mess,” said Shipley.

Proponents of a nuclear renaissance have long touted the benefits of nuclear power in France. But France had and still has very few natural energy resources. It has no oil, no gas and its coal resources are very poor and virtually exhausted. France has a tradition of large, centrally managed technological projects. Historically, those most accepting of nuclear power have been communists and socialists.

“If I were to walk into a room in Idaho and suggest that we be more like France under any other circumstances, I would be laughed out of the room. So why are we suggesting that Idaho be more like France in this case? Especially when France has nowhere to dispose of its nuclear waste and Areva is pumping its radioactive waste into the English Channel at its facility in La Hague?” Shipley said.

“This is the opportunity for Tea Party supporters to stand up against government bailouts. We are anticipating that this bailout of a French government-owned company with our US tax dollars will attract the scorn of Sarah Palin and her supporters.”

The $2 billion loan guarantee is only one step in the ladder Areva has to climb before it builds its facility. The facility is not yet licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Alliance expects a draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposal to be released in July. A public meeting will then be held in Idaho Falls before licensing is complete.

“Idahoans still have a chance to say ‘no’ to Areva and its radioactive waste, and save our tax dollars. We expect that when the facts become clear about what this facility really means for Idaho and neighboring states, many Idahoans will reject the Areva proposal, and we hope the NRC will listen,” Shipley concluded.

The Snake River Alliance works for responsible solutions to nuclear waste and a nuclear-free future. It seeks to strengthen Idaho’s economy and communities through the implementation of renewable energy sources in Idaho and the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation. This year marks its 31st Anniversary as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and advocate for clean energy.