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How Much Does Idaho National Lab Spend on Waste Disposal?

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WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons


Former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus fired another shot in his ongoing fight against disposal of nuclear waste in the Gem State, submitting an opinion piece to Idaho media this afternoon outlining his what he called "violations" of the so-called Batt agreement, which governs shipments of waste from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Named for former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt, who served a four-year term following Andrus, the agreement put strict limits on the quantity, source and type of waste allowed into Idaho in exchange for removal and cleanup deadlines. In January, Andrus and Batt blasted Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's plan to reopen importation of spent nuclear fuel from a commercial power plant to the Idaho National Laboratory, calling it a decision "done in the dark of night." Andrus was similarly critical of the "culture of secrecy" at DOE.

The shipments were canceled this month after talks broke down between state and federal officials over an exemption to the Batt agreement.

Andrus called DOE's decision to scrap the shipments "just the latest chapter in a long campaign to get the agency to keep its commitments to Idaho," but cautioned more needs to be done to keep the agency accountable.

"A major violation of the agreement involves highly radioactive liquid waste that must be treated, solidified and more safely stored," Andrus wrote. "DOE committed in the Batt agreement to have a liquid waste treatment facility operational months ago, but it has not happened." 

While INL has long been trumpeted as a major economic driver in the state, giving eastern Idaho a foothold in high-tech industries like energy production and material sciences, cleanup and waste storage at the site has been a decades-long controversy—and it's not cheap.

According to data obtained this month through a Freedom of Information Act request by Muckrock.com user Dave Maass, INL spent nearly $5.5 million on waste disposal between Fiscal Year 2009-2010 and FY2014-2015.

Other takeaways from the document:
  • In FY2010, the total cost of waste disposal was approximately $850,000—more than $606,000 of it on disposing of radioactive waste.

  • In FY2015, the total cost of waste disposal was more than $766,000—nearly $590,000 of it on disposing of radioactive waste. 

  • In FY2016, the total cost of waste disposal, based on the past four years of disposal costs, is estimated to be approximately $642,000.
Check out the complete data set here:
See related PDF INL_Spent_Waste_Disposal_FY2009-2010_through_FY2014-15.pdf