March 09, 2005

Craig, Crapo, Simpson React To Ineel Aquifer Monitoring Results

WASHINGTON, DC â?? Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo and Congressman Mike Simpson reacted today to groundwater monitoring results from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Although some of the readings showed that levels of radionuclide contamination are declining, monitoring results from a new aquifer monitoring well near INEELâ??s high level waste tank farm have found unexpected levels of the radioactive element Technetium-99. These results do not pose an immediate health risk, as this water is not used for drinking by INEEL workers or the public. â??These monitoring results reaffirm a couple of things - first, how important it is that we have a thorough and credible system of monitoring wells in place so that we have hard facts about what is happening underground at INEEL and second - that we need to get on with the business of addressing the largest potential risks first,â?? Senator Craig said. â??I have long agreed with the State of Idaho that stabilizing INEELâ??s high-level waste, preparing it for disposal in the repository, and completing clean up of these tanks is a priority of the highest order and that our aquifer will not be compromised in the process. Letâ??s get this high level waste treated, stabilized and disposed of - sooner rather than later.â??Senator Crapo said, â??It is imperative that we maintain thorough and reliable monitoring regarding activities at the INEEL, and we have to be ready to address any risks to the public. While these groundwater monitoring results are unexpected and do not pose an immediate health risk, I am committed to ensuring that the community is protected and encourage the DOE to thoroughly evaluate these results and take appropriate action. We must do what is needed to protect public health and maintain integrity and reliability in the monitoring process.â??â??I have long believed that sound science should be the primary driver of cleanup priorities at the INEEL,â?? said Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson. â??We now have sound science demonstrating that technetium has found its way into the Snake River Plain Aquifer at levels higher than drinking water standards. While we should not overreact to this news, it is clear that the stabilization and cleanup of the INEEL's high-level waste must be DOE's top priority. I will be closely monitoring DOE's actions in response to this monitoring result and continue to remind them that there is simply no effort more important to me or the people of Idaho than the protection of our aquifer.â??[30]