Media Release
For Immediate Release
March 31, 2009
Contact: Andrea Shipley
(208) 344-9161
(208) 514-8713 Cell

Email: [email protected]

Thirty Years Later Nuclear Dangers Still Threaten Idaho
Boise, ID—Early in the morning of March 28, 1979, a series of equipment malfunctions and worker errors led to the partial meltdown of the Three-Mile Island Unit 2 nuclear reactor near Middletown, Pennsylvania. A harrowing week of uncertainty and fear followed, as the reactor’s owners, government regulators, and the public struggled to respond appropriately.
Within weeks, the accident helped spur a handful of people to found the Snake River Alliance. “We have always been proud of our founders’ vision, care, and leadership,” said Andrea Shipley, Alliance director. “Idaho would be a very different place today without our activism.”
Over the years, the Alliance has helped stop the construction of two reactors that would have produced ingredients for nuclear bombs, a refinery for weapons-grade plutonium, and a plutonium incinerator. A recent plan to consolidate a plutonium space battery program here seems to have been abandoned, and a plan to use reactors and reprocessors in Idaho to jumpstart dirty, dangerous nuclear projects around the world is losing support. The Alliance’s Stop the Shipments campaign significantly slowed the flood of nuclear waste into Idaho even as its staunch, steady support has encouraged cleanup at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
“Even though we’ll be celebrating our successes in the coming months, we know that this is no time for our efforts to flag,” Shipley said. “Many of the nuclear dangers we’ve protected Idaho from over the years are still threats today.” Shipley enumerated some of the threats. “The nuclear power industry seems to have gained some traction around the notion that there’s some sort of nuclear renaissance right around the corner. Idaho will always be on the target list for nuclear waste from other places. Its lobbyists have convinced Congress to underwrite the industry to the tune of billions of dollars in the form of taxpayer guarantees for corporate loans, even though the Congressional Budget Office estimates industry will default on half the loans and leave taxpayers holding the bag. One of the bags we might be left holding is a $2-billion subsidy for Areva to build a uranium enrichment plant in Idaho. The French government owns 85% of Areva, which is financially shaky already. If that plant is ever built, Idaho will get another bad debt and nuclear waste with no place else to go. The same is true if INL or Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. (the company requesting a rezone of prime agricultural land in Elmore County for a nuclear reactor next to the Snake River) or any other private company succeeds in building a reactor here.”
Shipley noted that one of the first issues the Alliance ever focused on was the Idaho National Laboratory’s routine practice of injecting hazardous and radioactive waste into the Snake River Aquifer. “Nuclear contamination at INL remains a problem, one that requires our—and all other Idahoans’—active involvement,” Shipley said.
The Snake River Alliance has a long history of advocating for the cleanup of the radioactive legacy from the Cold War at the Idaho National Laboratory and protecting the Snake River Aquifer that lies underneath the contamination. It also advocates clean energy alternatives to nuclear and fossil fuel power generation. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Snake River Alliance as well as the 30th anniversary of the Three-Mile Island reactor accident.