BOISE – Former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus said he’s troubled by a new deal that would allow even small amounts of nuclear waste to be shipped to eastern Idaho.
Andrus was instrumental in negotiating an agreement in 1995 with the federal government to limit nuclear waste shipments coming into the state for any reason.
In a Jan. 11 letter obtained by the Idaho Statesman, Andrus raises questions with Gov. Butch Otter about a new agreement that clears shipments of small amounts of waste to the Idaho National Laboratory for research.
“The good news is the Department of Energy has found a place to store nuclear waste,” Andrus said. “The bad news is it’s between Idaho Falls and Arco.”
Otter, a Republican, said the 880 pounds of used fuel coming to the lab annually under the new agreement was being used for research and will count toward existing limits set in the state’s 1995 nuclear waste agreement with the federal government.
That agreement requires the federal government to remove all 300 tons of spent fuel at the lab by 2035, or pay the state $60,000 a day if it fails to do so.
Andrus teamed with former Republican Idaho Gov. Phil Batt to forge the original agreement limiting nuclear waste shipments to Idaho, fearing radioactive and toxic Cold War garbage shipped to the 890-square-mile nuclear reservation from sites including the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant near Golden, Colo., would spread to the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer and eventually the Snake River.
Batt supports the new agreement made by Otter.
“I think it’s a good deal for Idaho and a good deal for the nation,” Batt said. “We are a part of the United States and should be working together to achieve energy independence. This is not a partisan issue.”