Idaho, Energy Department sign deal on spent nuclear fuel
Thursday, 7 November 2019 () BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho granted a conditional waiver Thursday to the U.S. Department of Energy that could allow research quantities of spent nuclear fuel into the state after years of blocking such shipments.
The agreement announced by Gov. Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, both Republicans, means the Idaho National Laboratory could receive about 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of spent fuel for experiments as part of a U.S. strategy to expand nuclear power and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The waiver requires the Energy Department to first prove it can process 900,000 gallons (3.5 million liters) of high-level radioactive liquid waste that sits above a giant Idaho aquifer that supplies water to farms and cities.
The Energy Department has spent some $600 million trying to do that, so far having failed but reporting good progress earlier this year at its Integrated Waste Treatment Unit.
The deal announced Thursday makes it easier for the Energy Department to bring spent fuel for research into the state but benefits Idaho by requiring earlier removal of other nuclear waste at the 890-square-mile (2,305-square-kilometer) site west of the city of Idaho Falls that includes the Idaho National Laboratory.
Specifically, the 2019 Supplemental Agreement grants a conditional waiver to the historic 1995 Settlement Agreement reached by former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus and Republican Gov. Phil Batt.
They engaged in a series of federal court battles with the Energy Department resulting in the 1995 Settlement Agreement during Batt's term that is generally seen as preventing Idaho from becoming a high-level nuclear waste dump.
The Energy Department benefits in the most recent deal because instead of having to process all the radioactive liquid waste before it can...
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