Bringing the Economy Home

Former Idaho Govs Andrus, Batt Oppose Changes To 1995 Nuclear Agreement

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Idaho Commerce Director Jeff Sayer chairs the LINE Commission.

Former Gov. Cecil Andrus has sent a letter to Idaho Commerce Director Jeff Sayer opposing any amendment to the 1995 agreement between the State of Idaho and the U.S. Department of Energy that sets benchmarks for nuclear waste cleanup in the state.

Sayer heads the Leadership in Nuclear Energy (LINE) Commission established by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.  That commission — which was established “in recognition of the important role nuclear activities play in Idaho’s economic future” — produced a preliminary report last week.  StateImpact‘s overview of that report and its context is available here.

“Idaho and her citizens have for decades been trying to remove nuclear waste from above the Snake River Aquifer,” Andrus’ letter reads.  “I am opposed to importing and placing more high-level waste directly above the water supply of our people and industries. Such an action would be dangerous and politically unwise.”  The Idaho Statesman has the letter in full.

Former Gov. Phil Batt, who negotiated the 1995 Settlement Agreement, tells the Statesman that he also does not support modifying the agreement or extending the deadlines it contains.

The LINE Commission report asks whether Idahoans are willing to consider changes to the agreement.  It also implies that the consequences of not considering changes could be dire, from an economic standpoint.  Here’s that excerpt of key questions posed by the report:

  • What does it mean to be the nation’s lead nuclear energy laboratory?
  • Does the State of Idaho support that designation and want INL to maintain it?
  • What kind of research will need to be done at the lead nuclear energy laboratory?
  • The designation as the nation’s lead nuclear energy laboratory requires INL to conduct  research on various nuclear materials, including small quantities of commercial spent fuel and materials associated with research into high burn-up fuels. In order to fulfill its mission as the lead nuclear energy laboratory, what types of nuclear materials will need to be brought to INL for research?
  • If bringing those research materials to Idaho requires changes to the 1995 Settlement Agreement, is Idaho willing to consider such changes?
  • If Idaho is not willing to consider changes to the 1995 Settlement Agreement, is it instead willing to allow INL to lose its designation as the lead nuclear energy laboratory and see some or all of its research mission transferred to other DOE facilities?


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