State Subsidies for Uranium Enrichment Plant Would be an Insult to Idahoans
Snake River Alliance News Release
Jan. 31, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Andrea Shipley, Snake River Alliance Executive Director
(208) 344-9161 office
(208) 514-8713 cell
BOISE, ID— Idaho’s state leaders have no business using taxpayer money to try to lure a French government-controlled uranium enrichment plant to Idaho, the Snake River Alliance said Thursday.
“The commercial nuclear power industry already relies on U.S. taxpayer subsidies for its very survival in its bid to build new nuclear power plants,” Snake River Alliance Executive Director Andrea Shipley said. “But to ask Idaho taxpayers to subsidize a uranium enrichment facility in Idaho is just over the top. Idahoans will not stand for it, and the Alliance will ensure they are made aware of any attempts to spend state funds on a risky and completely unnecessary project.”
The Associated Press reported Thursday that Areva, Inc., one of the world’s largest nuclear power companies and controlled by the French government, is discussing plans to build a uranium enrichment facility meeting with officials in Idaho and other states to build a uranium enrichment facility for nuclear power plants. Such a facility would import a uranium concentrate, called “yellow cake,” and then separate out the rare uranium-235 to be used in nuclear reactor fuel. The AP account also attributed to Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, the chair of the powerful House Revenue and Taxation Committee, that Areva is looking at possible sites in Bonneville County, home of Idaho Falls.
The story said Lake “has been working with Idaho Falls leaders on a package of tax breaks to introduce in the Legislature to help lure the plant.” Legislation is being drafted that would “provide hundreds of millions in tax incentives to help persuade the company to build a plant near the Idaho National Laboratory nuclear reservation near Idaho Falls,” the AP reported.
“Idaho has a $200 million backlog in transportation projects, a gaping hole in its Medicaid program, a crisis in managing its prison population, immense education needs, and underpaid state employees,” Shipley said. “It does not have ‘hundreds of millions’ of dollars to lavish on one of the world’s richest government-controlled nuclear power companies. The last time the Legislature showered taxpayer money on two corporations – Micron and Albertsons – the taxpayers were burned. They won’t tolerate it again, particularly for something as dangerous as this.”
Shipley said the Alliance is particularly concerned that state officials are actively negotiating with Areva to try to attract the firm to Idaho without first notifying the public about what the plant will entail and determining whether Idahoans want Areva’s operations in the state.
According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (www.nrc.gov), which would have to approve an enrichment plant such as the one Areva is proposing, the uranium centrifuge enrichment process can create a number of chemical and radiological health and environmental hazards, including creation of hydrogen fluoride, which is extremely dangerous if inhaled. The process also generates a variety of dangerous waste products, including depleted uranium. An enrichment plant in Paducah, Ky., has experienced a number of safety violations and health threats.
“Other than the obvious public safety and environmental risks, what would a plant like this bring to Idaho?” Shipley said. “Idaho has been targeted by developers of two nuclear power plants – one team soon realized the economic folly of building a reactor and pulled out last weekend. Now we have a scheme for a uranium enrichment plant to provide fuel for nuclear plants that probably will never be built. It’s time for state officials to take a reality check: Idahoans do not share their enthusiasm for all things nuclear, particularly given the ongoing threat to our Snake River Aquifer, and they especially don’t want our legislators to dig into our wallets to pay for it. Idaho has no working uranium mines or milling operations. It has no commercial nuclear power plants. And it has no need for a plant like this.”
The Snake River Alliance is a nonprofit organization working toward energy solutions for Idaho and dedicated to serving as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog.