Governors predict Idaho will be forced to keep nuclear waste after 2035

Any economic development plan based on bringing more nuclear waste into Idaho likely will not fly with the public, two former Idaho governors said Friday.

Democrat Cecil Andrus and Republican Phil Batt told the Leadership in Nuclear Energy Commission appointed by Gov. Butch Otter that Idahoans won’t stand for bringing more waste for storage above the Snake River Plain Aquifer that supplies water to most of southern Idaho. Batt said he faced a recall and public outcry when he decided to allow Navy waste shipments to resume in early 1995.

Even when he signed the 1995 agreement that set milestones for removing waste, he faced a referendum. But 62 percent of voters approved his plan that required all waste to be removed from the state in 2035.

Admiral John Grossenbacher, the INL’s lab director, and others in eastern Idaho have sought to have a discussion about potential interim storage of commercial nuclear waste at the INL. But Batt didn’t give them much hope — based on the 1995 initiative.

“I think if you would have asked the question how many wanted (waste) storage over there, I don’t think you would have gotten 5 percent of the vote,” Batt said.

Despite his and Andrus’ goal to get the waste out, the decision by the Obama Administration to close the Yucca Flats nuclear waste storage site in Nevada may stop that. Idaho can expect to keep 300 tons of highly radioactive used nuclear fuel rods and dried radioactive waste stored at the Idaho National Laboratory after 2035.

The state would get $22 million a year from the federal government if the waste is not removed, beginning in 2035. The penalty, negotiated as part of the 1995 agreement, appears smaller today.

“It wouldn’t be a real deterrent,” Batt said. “I’m glad it’s in there.”

Andrus said the money should go to education.

Sold Out

For 22 pieces of silver. Thanks, Andrus & Batt. You guys really snookered those nuclear engineering fellas at the Department of Energy.

No sell out

I appreciate the efforts by both Gov. Andrus and Gov. Batt to limit the amount of waste coming into the state. Given what and who they had to work with, I would like to have seen how "Sandhugger" would have done.
I hope the governors' are wrong that this issue won't be resolved by 2035 but I understand their pessism. I do believe, however, that whether it is a long-term repository or a number of regional repositories, that we will see some state or local governments actually volunteer to take at least the lower level commercial waste. There are new research applications that can be made with low-level waste that the INL may consider as well. For higher-level waste we may see plans developed to keep that at or near the nuclear plants where they are generated or an expansion of deeper underground facilities like that at WIPP in New Mexico.
Not following through on Yucca Mountain was a horrible decision for this country and made purely for political reasons. While remote, there is still a chance that Congress may be able to get DOE to live up to its commitments it made regarding Yucca Mountain.
Gene Fadness

Gov. Batt's Agreement

Sandhugger must not know that the deal Gov. Batt cut with the Navy was so tight that the Navy refused to negotiate any more agreements that came anywhere near the restraints included in the 1995 one with Idaho!

Batt admtted

"It wouldn't be a real deterrent." Andrus did not disagree. By 2035, $22 million won't be enough money to buy off another Idaho politician.

No biggie. We already have zombies-they post here.


You fry wants with that?


Knee jerk reactions to the news the nuclear waste isn't leaving the state by 2035 are overblown. First of all, all the high level liquid waste (HLW) at INTEC will be processed to dry form and sealed forever inside steel canisters made to hold the stuff. Second, the spent nuclear fuel now in wet storage is being moved to dry storage. Third, the cleanup project is shipping low level radioactive waste from RWMC to WIPP. That stuff will be long gone by 2035.

Once in dry storage, the spent fuel and HLW can't get into the water table or the aquifer. There will not be any mechanism that would make the waste a threat to anyone.

On the political front, it is likely the US will establish several interim storage sites, above ground, for spent nuclear fuel well before 2035.

And simply tossing spent fuel into a hole in the ground is wasteful.There is tremendous energy value in it. In plain English, it is like cutting down a forest to burn the bark while throwing away the trees. We recycle aluminum cans for the same reasons. This means that eventually the US will join other nations to reprocess its spent fuel.

The US might not do any of these things in Idaho, but these activities will affect the future of spent fuel stored here and likely before 2035.

"sealed forever"

Sounds like something Joseph Smith would say....and just as credible.

Nuh UHH! We can blowup the other states.

But NIMBY--we'll infest your ecosystem with MRSA.



You fry wants with that?

Snake River Plan?

Please fix typo.

Or you could take what's behind door number three!

It COULD be no waste or maybe a Zonk! I need your decision.


You fry wants with that?