February 23, 2005

Idaho Delegation Reacts to Laboratory Restructuring

Proposed changes are to ensure labâ??s long-term viability

WASHINGTON, DC â?? Idahoâ??s Congressional delegation reacted to the U.S. Department of Energyâ??s announcement today to compete and award separate contracts for what was previously the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory West. One contract will be negotiated for the environmental remediation work at both sites and a separate contract will be structured for the new â??Idaho National Laboratoryâ?? to encompass the research aspects of both labs. â??It is important that we move Idahoâ??s national labs away from an environment where they fight for their existence on a year to year basis and position them with strength for the future,â?? Senator Larry Craig said. â??I have worked closely with the DOE on how we might accomplish that, and the changes that DOE is proposing here - while certain to cause some disruption in the near term - are our best hope for sustainability in the long term. While I have insisted that the laboratory maintain its multi-purpose nature, it is also significant that the new Idaho National Laboratory will collect those assets and capabilities that can make the proposal I have offered in the Senate â?? to build an advanced generation nuclear reactor in Idaho â?? a reality in the near term.â?? â??Today's announcement is strong evidence of the secure future for Idaho's site and our workforce. The return to prominence at the national level for nuclear research in Idaho is long overdue as our nation seeks alternative energy sources," Senator Mike Crapo said. "It is important that we proceed with cleanup at the site and accomplish that cleanup in line with the commitment that has been made to the State of Idaho.â??"The INEEL is headed into an exciting new era and accepting a reinvigorated mission significantly different from the work envisioned in the current contract," Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson said. "The DOE's decision will put in place a strong foundation for the INEEL's future and will challenge bidders to focus on specific aspects of the site's work. One set of bidders will be focused on cleanup while another set of bidders will be able to focus solely on growing the lab and cementing the INEEL's future as the nation's command center for nuclear energy research and development. While I firmly believe Bechtel and Argonne have done a great job in Idaho and will again be strong bidders, I am excited about the new opportunities to come and optimistic about the future of the DOE's work in Idaho." "This move is clear acknowledgment that the site's mission will continue long after the cleanup work is complete. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, it's obvious to me that a new generation of clean, efficient nuclear power plants will have an important place in America's energy future. The Energy Department is positioning itself wisely to meet the technological needs of that industry and America's consumers. The result will be greater energy self-reliance and security for everyone," Congressman C. L. â??Butchâ?? Otter said. â??Our goal, within this decade, is to have this lab emerge as one of the premier applied research and nuclear engineering institutions in the world, without losing focus on the cleanup work that needs to be completed,â?? Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said. â??By separately contracting for cleanup under a new contractual framework, the lab can develop and mature without distraction from other, equally vital, priorities.â??[30]