July 14th the Department of Energy is coming to Idaho to ask Idahoans what we think of consent-based siting process for commercial spent nuclear fuel. By answering a few simple questions the Alliance can easily show why Idahoans need to attend this meeting and voice their concern about the idea of storing any more nuclear waste in Idaho.
How much nuclear waste needs to be stored?
There are roughly 75,000 metric tons of commercial spent nuclear fuel in the US, with about 2,000 metric tons being added per year. Nothing has been said on how much storage would be needed or how much would be stored at any location. The Idaho National Laboratory already stores hundreds of tons of spent fuel. We shouldn’t add to that burden.
How long will it need to be stored?
Right now no predictions of storage time can be given. The reason is that highly radioactive nuclear waste is slated to be placed in deep geological repository. But there is no such facility anyplace on earth yet. So the Department of Energy is asking communities to store an unspecified amount of waste for an unspecified amount of time. It is extremely rare that once nuclear waste has been moved that it is moved again. In fact, none of the nuclear waste from the nuclear Navy that has been shipped to Idaho has ever moved again.
Where would this waste be stored?
This nuclear waste would be stored out at the Idaho National Laboratory, 45 miles outside of Idaho Falls – right above the Snake River aquifer. This aquifer is the drinking water for 300,000 people. So not only would we be asked to store an unspecified amount of waste for an unspecified amount of time, but to store it above our drinking water. That’s a tall order for Idahoans. Too tall. The moving of waste for storage to just be moved again for permanent disposal just increases the potential of nuclear waste exposure.
Idahoans and the Snake River Alliance have long been against any type of nuclear waste coming into Idaho. Nuclear waste is an extremely harmful substance that remains radioactive for thousands upon thousands of years. Any sort of leak or incident has huge environmental and social impacts, not just for the immediate area but for almost anyone downwind or downstream. Idahoans are proud of our state’s beauty and environment. We don’t want to jeopardize that by storing nuclear waste in Idaho.