Take action – Keep nuke waste out of Idaho!

19th of Jun 2015

Former Idaho Governors Cecil Andrus and Philip Batt have retained Advocates for the West’s Director of Litigation, Laird Lucas, to fight the Department of Energy’s proposal to ship commercial spent nuclear fuel to Idaho for “testing” and “research” at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

The former governors are upset because the 1995 Batt Settlement Agreement – which resolved litigation against DOE brought by Governor Andrus – flatly prohibits commercial spent nuclear fuel shipments into Idaho, while imposing deadlines for DOE to clean up and remove large amounts of nuclear and hazardous wastes at the INL. These include 900,000 gallons of highly-radioactive liquid wastes that have been stored for decades in aging tanks above the Snake River Plain Aquifer.

The 1995 Agreement required DOE to treat these liquid wastes into more stable, solid form by the end of 2012, and yet the wastes still sit untreated above Idaho’s main aquifer. Although DOE spent nearly $1 billion on a treatment facility, it has never run successfully – and there is no telling when, if ever, it will be operational.

Governors Andrus and Batt learned the hard way that DOE cannot be trusted to keep its promises to treat and remove nuclear wastes from Idaho. And now DOE wants Idaho to “waive” the 1995 Agreement’s ban on commercial spent nuclear fuel shipments, thus opening a door that was firmly shut two decades ago by the former governors.

In March 2015, we sent a notice letter threatening federal litigation for DOE’s failure to publicly disclose and evaluate its proposal to begin shipping commercial spent nuclear fuel to Idaho. In response, DOE has now issued a “Supplemental Analysis” addressing the proposal, and is inviting public comments.

The Supplemental Analysis is grossly inadequate. It relies on long-outdated prior DOE environmental impact statements – dating back to 1995 – rather than fully addressing the potential impacts of DOE’s proposal.  It also fails to make clear what DOE plans to do with commercial spent fuel shipments to INL in the future, which is a major problem.

Indeed, DOE misleads the public into thinking that only two small shipments (about 100 pounds each of radioactive material) are involved, when in fact DOE has been discussing since at least September 2013 the need to ship some 20 tons of commercial spent fuel to INL.

We don’t intend to allow this to happen, and your public comments will make a difference – so act now!

We encourage the public to weigh in by submitting comments to DOE before July 13, 2015. Comments can be submitted to:

Jack Depperschmidt
U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho Operations Office
1955 Fremont Avenue
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83415-1222

or by email at: comnfsa@id.doe.gov

Please say in your comment letters that you agree with Governors Andrus and Batt, and specify the following:

  1. DOE must fully disclose its plans for commercial spent fuel shipments to INL through a full Environmental Impact Statement, which is up-to-date and addresses all potential future commercial SNF shipments; and
  1. No shipments of commercial SNF to INL should be allowed at least until the 900,000 gallons of liquid radioactive wastes at INL are treated.