Negotiations between the federal government and the state over sending a shipment of spent nuclear fuel to Idaho collapsed amid mounting concerns a nearly $600 million waste-treatment facility at the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho might never operate, the AP reports. Letters between the U.S. Department of Energy and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, made public by Wasden, show that the federal agency balked at a counteroffer Wasden made seeking a way around the malfunctioning Integrated Waste Treatment Unit at the Idaho National Laboratory.
AP reporter Keith Ridler examined the letters to paint a picture of the failure of the negotiations, which resulted in the cancellation of the first proposed shipment; you can read his full report here. The Energy Department is trying to get a waiver to the 1995 nuclear waste agreement with the state that bars more waste shipments until the treatment facility begins converting 900,000 gallons of liquid waste, now stored at the site above the Eastern Snake Plain aquifer, into solid form. Wasden has posted extensive documentation about the negotiations at his website here.