February 04, 2005

Delegation/Governor React To Rad Waste Provision

Defense Authorization bill establishes process for completing tank clean-up

WASHINGTON, D.C. â?? Idahoâ??s Congressional Delegation and Governor Kempthorne reacted today to a provision in the 2005 Defense Authorization bill related to radioactive waste classification which affects cleanup activities at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. Senator Craig stated, â??First, last and always this issue has been about removing any ambiguity regarding what DOE will be required to do to complete the cleanup of liquid radioactive waste that is stored in these tanks. This bill now lays out a process of using the standards of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission - and the regulatory control of the State of Idaho - to force DOE into the cleanup that we intended to extract from them all along. I won't be surprised if some folks criticize the timing or process for getting this issue resolved, but they can't find fault with the terms laid out here. The fact is we have dictated the process DOE must follow and gotten the solution Idaho needed. Those in the environmental community who wanted to put Idahoâ??s cleanup on hold while they pursued their anti-nuclear agenda will need to find another soapbox.â?? â??This language will allow us to proceed with the cleanup and closure of the high-level waste storage tanks at the site and reaffirms the DOEâ??s obligations to Idaho under the Batt agreement,â?? Senator Crapo said. â??I applaud Governor Kempthorneâ??s leadership in reaching this strong agreement for Idaho. It is vitally important that we protect Idahoâ??s aquifer and that the clean up of these tanks be completed; this agreement is key in that effort.â?? Governor Dirk Kempthorne said, â??Although Idaho would have preferred a legislative process other than a conference report, the State endorsed this language because itâ??s consistent with our existing cleanup plans. This legislation protects our legal agreements, relies on publicly vetted radiation standards, and provides for independent oversight and judicial review of DOEâ??s actions.â?? â??With this solution we are ensuring that the cleanup we expected for the INL's tanks will be the cleanup we get,â?? said Congressman Mike Simpson. â??Most importantly, Idahoâ??s 1995 Settlement Agreement is expressly protected and its requirements of the DOE are in no way altered. Finally, the process set forward here employs existing waste classification standards of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and brings in the NRC as an independent third-party to oversee the DOE's actions. This agreement allows tank cleanup to move forward expeditiously while protecting the environment, workers, and the long-term interests of the State of Idaho.â?? Congressman C.L. â??Butchâ?? Otter said, â??Negotiators for the state of Idaho and the Department of Energy deserve recognition for crafting this agreement. It incorporates goals, processes and expectations consistent with Idahoâ??s groundbreaking 1995 settlement. But this is far more than a bureaucratic exercise. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials, I will be closely monitoring this agreementâ??s implementation to ensure the health and safety of Idahoans.â?? NOTE: To link directly to this press release, please use the following link: http://craig.senate.gov/releases/pr100804a.htm. [30]