Spent Nuclear Fuel On Its Way To Idaho

A shipment of spent nuclear fuel from several Navy ships is due to arrive at an Idaho storage facility this week, 2-1/2 years after a dispute between Idaho and the federal government ended such shipments.

The six railcars loaded with spent fuel from six deactivated submarines left the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on Friday, bound for the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. Shipyard spokesman John Gordon said Monday the shipment would arrive this week, although the exact time depended on railroad schedules.

The shipment was made just three days after Idaho, the Navy and the federal Energy Department agreed on a plan that allows the Navy to make 575 shipments of spent fuel over the next 40 years to INEL, the only site in the nation certified to store the highly radioactive material. The shipments will come from more than 100 nuclear submarines.

There are nine remaining railcars of spent nuclear fuel that will be shipped from the shipyard to Idaho in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, six railcars of nuclear fuel left Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. in Virginia bound for Idaho, said Beatrice Brailsford of the Idaho-based environmental group Snake River Alliance. That shipment is in preparation for a planned 1998 refueling of the Bremerton-based nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, the Bremerton Sun reported.

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