January 13, 2017

Idaho Congressional Delegation Urges DOE to Prioritize Idaho For Nuclear Waste Removal as WIPP Reopens

Washington, D.C. - In a joint letter led by U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), the Idaho congressional delegation thanked the Department of Energy (DOE) for diligently reopening the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in New Mexico, which was closed for nearly three years following a radiation incident in 2014. The delegation urged Secretary Moniz to prioritize waste coming from Idaho's Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Plant (AMWTP) as DOE establishes a shipment schedule for waste going to WIPP.

"Idaho and other DOE Environmental Management sites rely on WIPP," the Idaho congressional delegation wrote. "Moving forward, we want to make certain that the Department of Energy is doing everything possible to safely allow WIPP to run at full capacity so that it can expeditiously receive shipments of nuclear waste. Furthermore, since Idaho has the largest backlog of waste due to WIPP's untimely closure, we also ask that DOE prioritize shipments from the AMWTP."

This week, DOE formally reopened WIPP after a nearly three year closure. Throughout WIPP's closure, Idaho's AMWTP continued to retrieve, treat, and package nuclear waste that will eventually be shipped to WIPP. As such, there are a large number of containers ready for shipment today. Since a schedule for waste shipments to WIPP has not been finalized, Idaho's congressional delegation urged Secretary Moniz to prioritize shipments from the AMWTP.

Full text of the letter can be found below or by clicking here.

--

The Honorable Ernest Moniz
Secretary of Energy
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585

Dear Secretary Moniz:

On behalf of the Idaho congressional delegation, we appreciate the Department of Energy working to reopen the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in New Mexico as expeditiously as possible after a nearly three-year closure following a radiation accident in February 2014.

As you are aware, Idaho is home to the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Plant (AMWTP)-a one-of-a-kind facility that processes nuclear waste for shipment to WIPP, our nation's only deep geological repository for transuranic waste. Although WIPP has been shut down, the men and women who work at the AMWTP have continued to prepare waste to be shipped in order that the Department of Energy may fulfill its goal to move this waste out of the state per the 1995 Settlement Agreement, an agreement between the state of Idaho, the Department of Energy, and the U.S. Navy.

Idaho and other Department of Energy Environmental Management sites rely on WIPP. Moving forward, we want to make certain that the Department of Energy is doing everything possible to safely allow WIPP to run at full capacity so that it can expeditiously receive shipments of nuclear waste. Furthermore, since Idaho has the largest backlog of waste due to WIPP's untimely closure, we also ask that the Department of Energy prioritize shipments from the AMWTP.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Energy to ensure that all of the remaining nuclear waste from the AMWTP is removed and stored at WIPP.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator James E. Risch
U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Congressman Mike Simpson
Congressman Raúl R. Labrador

# # #