GUEST OPINION By STEVE HULME
No doubt the full text of the agreement occupies reams of paperwork (in government fashion), but for most of us common folk, the takeaway was that ALL spent nuclear fuel would be removed from Idaho by 2035 or earlier. And if the DOE failed to meet that deadline, Idaho could levy a fine of $60,000 per day.
At the time, the agreement was hailed by everybody who was concerned about radioactive waste in our back yard. Maybe we couldn’t get rid of it today, or even by next year. But there was a date off in the future (40 years in the future) when we’d be rid of it.
An overview of the 1995 agreement can be seen on the state’s Environmental Quality website.
So – how does the announcement of a new $1.6 billion nuclear waste processing facility mesh with that agreement?
The most informative article about the new facility that I’ve found, is on the Spokane Spokesman-Review website
According to that Keith Ridler article, “the new facility is needed to keep nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines deployed.” So, I guess it’s our patriotic duty to embrace it, huh? (Regardless of the fact that we’re 500 miles away from the nearest ocean.)
Preparation of the facility is slated to begin next year; it is anticipated to start operating in 2024. That’s only 11 years before ALL stored nuclear waste must be removed from the state, according to the earlier 1995 agreement. In addition, the S-R article states, “the nation has no repository for spent nuclear fuel at this time, so where it will go is not clear.”
Maybe our game plan should be to cooperate with the construction of the facility, and collect the $1.6 billion… and then refuse to let any nuclear waste be shipped there. Such a move wouldn’t be unprecedented… Nevada and their influential Senator Harry Reid were happy to build a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain (which cost us taxpayers an estimated $8 billion), and not one ounce of waste has been stored there.
Or maybe we should start figuring out how to divvy up that $60K-per-day “fine” from the feds. If my calculator is working, that’s about $22 million per year. 2035 dollars won’t go as far as 1995 dollars, but that’s still a pretty penny! Perhaps we can all enjoy a state tax cut, even if our aquifer has to be eternally monitored for radioactivity, and the horizon glows an eerie green at night.
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