Idaho, Energy Department Sign Deal on Spent Nuclear Fuel via at The New York Times

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho granted a conditional waiver Thursday to the U.S. Department of Energy that could allow research quantities of spent nuclear fuel into the state after years of blocking such shipments.

The agreement announced by Gov. Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, both Republicans, means the Idaho National Laboratory could receive about 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of spent fuel for experiments as part of a U.S. strategy to expand nuclear power and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The waiver requires the Energy Department to first prove it can process 900,000 gallons (3.5 million liters) of high-level radioactive liquid waste that sits above a giant Idaho aquifer that supplies water to farms and cities.

The deal announced Thursday makes it easier for the Energy Department to bring spent fuel for research into the state but benefits Idaho by requiring earlier removal of other nuclear waste at the 890-square-mile (2,305-square-kilometer) site west of the city of Idaho Falls that includes the Idaho National Laboratory.


The first 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of spent fuel would come from the Byron Nuclear Generating Station in Illinois.


The Energy Department has agreed to make sure that at least 55% of all transuranic waste shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico comes from Idaho. That facility has experienced waste shipment bottlenecks in recent years. Transuranic waste is work clothing, rags, machine parts and tools that have been contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive elements

The Energy Department has also agreed to remove an additional 300 pounds (136 kilograms) of uranium, plutonium or enriched uranium from Idaho by the end of 2021.


The Idaho National Laboratory is a huge economic driver in the state, with some 4,400 workers. Spent fuel research could bring millions of additional federal dollars.

Read more at Idaho, Energy Department Sign Deal on Spent Nuclear Fuel

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