Batt Seeks Nuclear Waste Pact With Feds State May Be Forced To Accept Dumping If Chicago Talks Fail
Gov. Phil Batt and Attorney General Alan Lance flew to Chicago Tuesday afternoon for what administration officials described as a last attempt to negotiate a deal with the federal government on dumping more nuclear waste in Idaho.
If this round of talks fails, the state faces the prospect of Congress mandating more radioactive dumping at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory without Batt’s demanded guarantee that the waste eventually be moved out of Idaho.
Batt spokeswoman Amy Kleiner said the governor and Lance, backed up by the cadre of attorneys who have been handling the intermittent negotiations for the past two months, expect to meet with Energy Department Undersecretary Thomas Grumbley and Adm. Bruce DeMars, the head of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.
Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary promised Batt she would send an emissary to today’s meeting with authority to make decisions and commitments.
But Kleiner said the negotiations, forced on the state by rising congressional support for overriding a 2-year-old federal court ban on nuclear dumping, appeared to have made little progress since beginning early this summer.
“I don’t think they’re any closer than they were,” Kleiner said. “It’s just dragging on and on. We want to find out if they can meet the governor’s expectations or we’re done.
“And if it’s done, we’re facing what’s going to happen in Congress,” she said.
Kleiner said the meeting in Chicago - a neutral location demanded by the state - is open-ended.
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