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NRC “Trash Talk?” What to do with Uranium Waste in ID

August 9, 2010

BOISE, Idaho - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is opening the door to public scrutiny today at a meeting in Boise to discuss the environmental impacts of building a $4 billion uranium enrichment plant proposed near Idaho Falls. The uranium is designed to fuel nuclear power plants, and the project would bring jobs to the Gem State.

Andrea Shipley, who is executive director of Idaho's Snake River Alliance, an official partner for the meeting, says the problem is that according to the documents available so far, there is no plan on what to do with the radioactive waste generated by the plant, other than to store it in Idaho.

"This is a project that would generate a mountain of depleted uranium waste. The NRC is only now beginning to study how to dispose of this waste so that it will not stay in Idaho indefinitely."

French-owned Areva is proposing the plant, with plans to ship a large portion of the enriched uranium to nuclear power facilities in other countries. The public is invited to offer input at the meeting today, and at another meeting Thursday in Idaho Falls.

There are still tons of nuclear waste at the Idaho National Laboratory waiting to be cleaned up or stored elsewhere, and Shipley says the state needs to see clear plans on any project that would generate more waste.

"It's always a huge for issue for Idaho, and something that decision-makers have been steadfast in opposing more of, and also steadfast in advocating for cleanup."

The public meeting in Boise today is at 7 p.m., Oxford Suites Boise Hotel, Idaho Ballroom, 1426 S. Entertainment Avenue. The Idaho Falls meeting is Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Red Lion Hotel.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID