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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

DOE wants comments on proposed nuke waste shipments to Idaho

The U.S. Department of Energy is calling for public comments on a controversial proposal to ship two loads of spent commercial nuclear fuel rods to eastern Idaho for research; comments are being accepted through July 13 on its draft analysis. The fuel rods would weigh 80 to 100 kilograms total between the two loads, the agency says.

The department has proposed sending the spent fuel rods to the Idaho National Laboratory, a prospect that’s been vigorously opposed by former Idaho Govs. Phil Batt and Cecil Andrus, who say it would violate the nuclear waste agreement Batt negotiated with the feds when he was governor. While backers of the move, including Gov. Butch Otter, say the fuel rods are needed to allow new scientific research to be conducted at the site, opponents say allowing the two shipments would open the door for large amounts of commercial nuclear waste to be imported into the state.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has called for holding off on the shipments until federal authorities have met terms set in the Batt agreement for removal of other waste from the site.

The Department of Energy, in its call for public comments, said, “No decision has been made at this time regarding the destination of the proposed spent nuclear fuel shipments; that decision will be made following completion of this NEPA process.” There’s more online here, including the 60-page document and how to submit comments.

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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