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Idaho politics – differences between governor candidates on nuclear issues

Gov. candidates weigh in on nuclear cleanup deal, Post Register, Idaho,  February 8, 2018 , By NATHAN BROWN nbrown@postregister.com

The two Democratic candidates to be Idaho’s next governor want the state to take a tough stance on enforcing the 1995 Settlement Agreement, while the Republicans were more open to modifying the agreement and granting waivers to allow the shipment of research fuel into the state.

The 1995 Agreement sets milestones for the federal government to clean up and remove nuclear waste. If the feds miss one, the state’s recourse is to suspend small shipments of spent nuclear fuel INL uses for research.

In 2012, the Department of Energy missed a deadline to treat 900,000 gallons of liquid radioactive waste. Its treatment has been delayed by technical problems for years since then, although the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit may start processing waste for shipment out of the state by the end of the year. Another major deadline, to remove all transuranic waste from the state, is coming up at the end of 2018.

A.J. Balukoff, one of two major Democratic candidates running in the primary, put out a statement over the weekend “calling on Idaho’s state and federal lawmakers to insist the federal government abide by the terms of the landmark 1995 Nuclear Agreement.”

“With 900,000 gallons of liquid nuclear waste perched above the Snake River aquifer, Idaho can’t afford to be weak on this issue,” Balukoff said. “The Idaho National Lab will continue to be on the cutting edge of nuclear research, but Idaho shouldn’t become a nuclear waste dump in the process. The Feds must honor the agreement and treat the most dangerous nuclear material on site before the aging tanks become a threat to our aquifer.”

Former state Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, who resigned from the Legislature on Wednesday to focus on her campaign, is Balukoff’s opponent for the Democratic gubernatorial nod. She said there should be “no exceptions whatsoever to the commitments of the 1995 Settlement Agreement.”

“The state of Idaho should not be a dumping ground for the nation’s commercial spent nuclear fuel and the federal government should not be allowed to renege on what it agreed to do,” she said. “It is not just a matter of principle, but a matter of protecting our sustainable resources for the prolonged life of our citizens, ecosystem and food industry.”

By contrast, U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, one of three major Republican candidates for the job, said he would support waivers to the agreement to allow shipments of research fuel for INL.

“The 1995 Settlement Agreement has been good for Idaho,” Labrador said in an email. “But the time has come to take a step back and ask ourselves if the Settlement Agreement is helping Idaho or hurting it. I believe thoughtful modifications to the Settlement Agreement are necessary and can solidify Idaho’s role as a leader in nuclear energy and will provide significant economic benefits to Idaho and the Idaho National Laboratory.”

Republican Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who is also running for governor and is co-chairman of the Leadership in Nuclear Energy Commission that works on INL issues for the state, said ”any good plan moving forward requires the next governor to work to update the 1995 settlement agreement to meet two key objectives — prioritizing environmental cleanup and retaining the incredible assets at the INL. The success of these objectives is interdependent.

“Allowing shipments of small quantities of research fuel maintains the INL’s premier status,” Little continued. “It facilitates additional resources and talent for research, (while) also ensuring the resources remain in Idaho for cleaning up and shipping out legacy waste.”

Treasure Valley developer and GOP candidate Tommy Ahlquist said he would be open to new shipments “as long as we can get consensus from all stakeholders, it’s done safely, and improves and protects Idaho’s position.” However, he also believes Idaho needs to “hold the federal government accountable to the ’95 agreement.”………

Jordan said she would be “solidly adamant” that cleanup deadlines be met.

“I would not allow any room for the federal government to renegotiate what they have already committed to as part of the agreement,” she said. “The INL should not be allowed to become permanent waste storage and transit facility but (I) understand the INL’s need for shipments as our nation’s leading nuclear research laboratory.” http://www.postregister.com/articles/news-daily-email-todays-headlines/2018/02/08/gov-candidates-weigh-nuclear-cleanup-deal

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February 10, 2018 - Posted by | politics, USA

1 Comment »

  1. The Idaho National Lab is the only US National Lab whose major job is promoting nuclear. It is patently unfair that they keep the high paying jobs from this and refuse to even keep their own waste there. That part of Idaho looks like the moon, had a nuclear accident already, is cool and arid. But, they are shipping the waste to hot and sometimes hot and humid areas of the country – WIPP with its collapsing salt, West Texas to bury, or to hot and humid South Carolina. Idaho also has an extremely low population. Instead of promoting nuclear and experimenting with waste they should keep the waste and put lab workers to work watching it for an eternity. For qualified workers who benefit from the nuclear industry, low population and climate it is the most appropriate place for a waste dump. If geology is bad they can use a bunker. I find it interesting and hypocritical that those that benefit the most from nuclear industry and know the dangers are most anxious to get shot of the waste.

    Comment by miningawareness | February 10, 2018 | Reply


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