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Feds Head to Idaho for Meeting on Nuclear Waste

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016   

BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Department of Energy will hold a meeting next week at the Boise Centre downtown to come up with a process for getting consent from local communities before siting new nuclear waste facilities. Idaho's nuclear-watchdog group is having workshops tonight and Thursday to help the community prepare.

Beatrice Brailsford, nuclear program director for the Snake River Alliance, said the Gem State already stores nuclear waste at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls and repeatedly has rejected new nuclear waste.

"For decades, we have been the host state for waste that is supposed to go someplace else at some point," she said, "but our experience has been that interim storage and permanent storage are, so far, pretty much one and the same."

The Energy Department is searching for places to accept spent fuel from commercial reactors around the country, many of which are closing as states move toward renewable-energy sources. Brailsford estimated that the United States needs to find a permanent storage solution for 75 thousand metric tons of nuclear waste.

"It's the most radioactive waste on earth," she said. "It is a very dangerous waste stream, and that inventory grows by 2,000 metric tons every year."

According to Brailsford, part of the Energy Department's mission is to promote nuclear energy and develop nuclear weapons, so she'd like to see a different agency deal with nuclear waste — one with more of an environmental perspective. U.S. Senate Bill 854, which would establish a new Nuclear Waste Administration, has been introduced but hasn't yet gotten a vote. Details of the bill are online at congress.gov.

The Snake River Alliance workshops will be held at the main Boise Public Library on Capitol Boulevard, beginning at 7 p.m. today and Thursday. More information is online at snakeriveralliance.org. The Department of Energy meeting will be held from 5 to 9:30 p.m. July 14.


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