Latest from The Spokesman-Review
Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Federal officials this week are meeting with companies interested in a $1 billion contract to clean up radioactive waste at an eastern Idaho nuclear facility. The Post Register reports (http://www.postregister.com/node/64730) that the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho Cleanup Project Core is a five-year contract that also includes watching over spent nuclear fuel at the Idaho National Laboratory. Events planned this week include an overview conference Monday, a site tour Tuesday, and one-on-one sessions Wednesday. Three other cleanup contracts worth far less will also advance in the coming months. Currently, two companies with contracts that expire Sept. 30, 2015, handle cleanup tasks. But the Department of Energy plans to split those duties four ways with contracts of five to nine years.
1st District Rep. Raul Labrador is headed into what could be hostile territory next week – Idaho Falls and the Idaho National Laboratory, a huge employer in Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District. Labrador twice voted to gut the national nuclear research funding that operates the facility, potentially threatening thousands of jobs at the INL. He’s scheduled to tour the place next week and to address the Rotary Club in nearby Idaho Falls.
“We’ve been trying to do it for months,” Labrador said, but scheduling conflicts put the visit off until now. “They know they’re going to get a frank discussion with me, that I don’t mince my words and I don’t beat around the bush,” he said. “I understand the importance of INL to Idaho, but they also need to understand we have a $17 trillion debt, so we’re going to have a very interesting conversation.”
In the past few days, three Idaho governors - former Govs. Cecil Andrus and Phil Batt and current Gov. Butch Otter - have published guest opinions in the Idaho Statesman newspaper with strongly worded messages about potential changes in the nuclear waste agreement Batt famously negotiated with the feds, guaranteeing that Idaho won't become the nation's future nuke waste repository. Today, Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker sorts through the charges; you can read his full report here. The upshot: Both Andrus and Batt are urging Otter to stick with the 1995 agreement, and despite possible changes outlined by current INL Director John Grossenbacher, Otter is pledging that he will.
Researchers at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, a partnership between Idaho's three public research universities and the Idaho National Laboratory, have won three different U.S. Department of Energy grants worth a total of $5.3 million. The three are for solar energy, geothermal energy and energy efficiency, and include researchers from Boise State University, the University of Idaho, Idaho State University and the INL. CAES Director Bill Rogers said, "Winning these grants illustrates the power of collaboration and what the CAES partners can achieve by working together." He added, "We are very proud of our researchers. Their hard work is really paying off." You can read more about the three grants here.
A recent agreement with the federal government could put Idaho at the forefront of a "resurgence" in nuclear reactor research, Gov. Butch Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said today. In a joint guest opinion, Otter and Wasden defend a decision that allows the Department of Energy to ship limited quantities of used nuclear reactor fuel to Idaho for research. They say the deal, announced Jan. 6, does not compromise a 1995 nuclear waste cleanup agreement forged by former Gov. Phil Batt/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Does this send a message that Idaho has changed its mind re: being a repository for nuclear waste?