July 01, 2008

Idaho Delegation: Cleanup Agreement Reflects "Best Science"

Decision ensures expedient cleanup; keeps INL focus on energy research

Idaho Falls - Idaho's Congressional Delegation says today's announcement by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter and the U.S. Department of Energy to revise a cleanup agreement at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) reflects the "best science possible". The agreement formalizes a 2006 federal court order requiring DOE to remove buried transuranic waste from the site and to coordinate those activities with existing Superfund cleanup of the area to protect water supplies in the Snake River Aquifer.

Otter was joined by Congressman Mike Simpson, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, DOE Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management James A. Rispoli and former Idaho Governors Phil Batt and Cecil Andrus to announce the agreement during events in Idaho Falls and Boise.

"I am confident that the best science possible was used in making this determination about further cleanup efforts," said Senator Mike Crapo. "What is most important is to move ahead aggressively with cleanup efforts related to past nuclear materials from outside Idaho that were brought to Idaho for temporary storage. These materials should be removed as quickly as possible, and that activity should not be held up by future court battles or lack of cleanup funding. With our nation's energy future clouded by high energy prices and too few alternatives in our energy portfolio, it is time to finish the cleanup process so that the Idaho National Laboratory can better prioritize its role as the leading research facility in the nation for nuclear energy production and for the study of alternative and renewable energy."

"I would like to congratulate both the State of Idaho and the Department of Energy for reaching a resolution on the buried waste issue," Senator Larry Craig said. "We now have a path forward for removing legacy wastes out of the State and a long-term strategy to monitor and manage any remaining wastes at the site. Just as important is that this resolution will allow the INL to continue its valuable research and development work in the areas of nuclear power and on alternative energy sources that will power this country for the future."

"The agreement announced today marks the end of confrontation and the start of accelerated buried waste remediation at the INL, which is very good news for the people of Idaho," said Congressman Simpson. "Governor Otter and Attorney General Wasden, and their staffs, deserve a great deal of credit for achieving a consensus-based approach to buried waste remediation which accomplishes real risk-reduction sooner rather than later. I also commend DOE and Assistant Secretary Rispoli for their cooperation and resolve to meet the federal government's commitments to our state. Finally, the critical involvement of Governors Andrus and Batt in reaching this agreement speaks to both the longevity and importance of this issue to Idaho."

"I applaud everyone who worked so hard to bring us to this point and look forward to continued progress on this issue," Congressman Bill Sali said. "This agreement will provide for a cleaner Idaho and will also mark a point of progress for those interested in seeing continued energy solutions for our nation coming from our own Idaho National Laboratory."