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Court to INL: Get Rid of the Junk

State Court rules in Idaho's favor on buried waste

It only took 10 years. The Idaho National Laboratory is now under orders to remove all transuranic waste out at the site, according to a ruling late last week from the U.S. District Court in Boise.

The Department of Energy was supposed to start doing it in 1995, when then-Gov. Phil Batt negotiated an agreement with the agency, requiring the federal government to remove all transuranic waste--that is, plutonium-contaminated garbage--and all spent fuel from INL. But the DOE doubted that buried waste was specified in the agreement, and fought the order in federal district court.

According to the Snake River Alliance, INL's burial grounds sit less than 600 feet above the Snake River Aquifer, North America's second-largest aquifer and the source of drinking water for nearly 300,000 people.

"The court's decision was not at all unexpected," said Attorney General Lawrence Wasden in a prepared statement. "The State of Idaho maintained that the 1995 agreement was clear and unambiguous and, specifically, that 'all transuranic waste' means exactly what it says, all transuranic waste. The court's decision upheld Idaho's position."