IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) – Idaho’s nuclear research laboratory is in the process of refurbishing a 1959 nuclear reactor to restart testing new fuel designs and power levels.
The U.S. Department of Energy is spending $75 million to restart the reactor, known as TREAT, by 2018, the Post Register reported.
Idaho National Laboratory transient testing director John Bumgardner says federal officials expressed interest in resuming the reactor’s testing abilities after the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan.
The Department of Energy conducted several cost-benefit studies across the country but Idaho’s TREAT reactor won as the best option.
TREAT is set to be INL’s third active nuclear reactor. However, not everyone is excited about it.
Beatrice Brailsford with the Snake River Alliance questioned if the demand for transient testing has increased since 1994, when officials cited lack of customers as one of the main reasons to shut it down.
Anti-nuclear group Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free also opposes the reactor.
“An accident at the TREAT Reactor can, INL admits, have an impact on people who live and work offsite,” wrote Kit DesLauriers of Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free, “. the most careful and realistic assessment must be done, and there must be full public participation in the decision to restart.”
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