Snake River Alliance successfully challenged and ultimately stopped the Department of Energy’s plan to bring 7,000 cubic meters of plutonium-contaminated waste to Idaho. The Department planned to transport the nuclear waste from Hanford, Washington across southern Idaho for treatment at Idaho National Laboratory. The waste would have been stranded here for many years.
The Alliance’s “Don’t Waste Idaho”campaign educated the public and decision-makers about the threats of that transportation proposal and the long-term consequences if Idaho served as a dumping ground for the Department’s nuclear waste. Some characterized it as a “done deal” that 33,000 barrels of plutonium-laced waste would come into Idaho (even as early as January 2019), but the Alliance’s powerful advocacy led to the Department cancelling the project!
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The Alliance succeeded in defeating this imminent threat by developing and implementing an advocacy campaign, Don’t Waste Idaho, comprised of concrete actions:
- The Alliance translated the Don’t Waste Idaho campaign material into Spanish to ensure our diverse audience across the state appreciated the threats to our people and quality of life.
- The Alliance collected more than 3,000 petition signatures through an online campaign with Change.org and with paper petitions at events across southern Idaho.
- We developed and coordinated letters to the editor of every newspaper in southern Idaho opposing the Department’s nuclear waste proposal.
- An Alliance member designed and built a Radioactive Roadshow float of “nuclear waste barrels” that we used at our campaign kickoff rally in Twin Falls, a music festival in Pocatello, the Boise Fourth of July parade, and summer farmers markets across the state.
- We had Don’t Waste Idaho billboards in Twin Falls and Boise.
- Alliance staff met with the mayors of Boise, Twin Falls, and Pocatello as well as editorial boards in those cities to educate and advocate against the proposal.
- The Alliance hosted a powerful series of “speakout sessions” in four towns across Idaho, comprised of a small panel of people sharing varied areas of expertise. During the series, audience members could share their perspectives as well. The Alliance videotaped the speakout sessions and then delivered copies of the videos to Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.
The Alliance’s efforts proved measurable and meaningful:
- The Alliance earned national media and television coverage with a press conference in Boise with Tracy Andrus, Governor Cecil Andrus’ daughter, to oppose the nuclear waste proposal.
- Both candidates for Idaho governor came out against the proposal to transport Hanford waste to Idaho, and on October 14, 2018, three weeks ahead of the election, the campaign’s success was highlighted on the front-page of the Idaho Statesman.
- The Mayor of Twin Falls directly advocated against the proposal to the Idaho Governor and Attorney General.
- The Alliance’s efforts to share calls, letters, 3,000 petitions, and video comments demonstrated to Attorney General Wasden that people in Idaho care deeply about the threats of nuclear waste.
- The Department of Energy released a study validating the Alliance’s position.
- In December 2018, the Department announced that the plutonium waste would not come to Idaho!