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Eye On Boise

Otter apologizes to Batt and Andrus, says he meant to inform them; defends his nuke stance

Gov. Butch Otter answers questions from reporters on Thursday (Betsy Russell)
Gov. Butch Otter answers questions from reporters on Thursday (Betsy Russell)

Gov. Butch Otter told reporters today that he meant for former Govs. Phil Batt and Cecil Andrus to be informed before he sent a letter to the Department of Energy regarding nuclear waste on Jan. 9. “If we didn’t reach out to them and let them know before we wrote the letter, then guilty, I am guilty,” he said. “I felt that we had. … If not, then I sincerely apologize.”

Otter said he believes he is still in compliance with Batt’s 1995 nuclear waste agreement with the feds. “They didn’t meet a deadline. They got a substantial fine,” he said. “They’re now on a schedule and there’s some motivation lines in there for that.” The AP has a full report here. Otter said his 2011 memorandum of understanding with the feds, which amended the 1995 agreement, is still in force; the 1995 agreement didn’t allow any commercial waste to come into and stay in Idaho, and he said the INL “wanted to keep for reference a small quantity of library samples of the testing and the researching that they’ve done.”

Andrus opposed the 2011 memorandum of understanding, but Batt supported it at the time. Otter said, “The 1995 agreement is still, as far as I’m concerned, I still respect that and I am still abiding by that agreement, with the … one addendum that has been agreed to, and that is the shipment of these small quantities of commercial fuel into the state.” He said, “The shipment that they’re talking about would be about 50 kilos. … That was agreed to three years ago in a memorandum of understanding.”

He added, “I don’t want to get into a fight with Gov. Batt and Gov. Andrus through the news media.” He said he’d rather talk with them on the phone or face to face.

Wasden issued this statement:

“While I am fully supportive of the INL research mission, the Governor and I have advised the DOE that it cannot ship any commercial spent fuel into Idaho until an enforcement commitment is made to address compliance. So until DOE enters into an enforceable plan for treating the waste, I will not consent to the receipt of any spent commercial nuclear fuel for research at the site. My position on this is clear and firm. I will demand compliance with all terms and conditions on the 1995 Settlement Agreement as a condition for any spent nuclear fuel coming into Idaho for research purposes.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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