Members of the Leadership in Nuclear Energy Commission decided to avoid taking a definitive stance on the nuclear waste issue in the Gem State.
More time is needed to discuss options for the waste’s transportation and storage, Commission Chairman Jeff Sayer said after the committee outlined its final recommendations Friday.
“What you’re going to see us say is the most extreme ideas are premature,” Sayer said. “(Ideas) like actually becoming an interim storage location. That’s not something we can just come out and recommend because the federal policy hasn’t been established.
“That’s the heart of why we need to have a continued conversation.”
The commission will encourage Gov. Butch Otter to continue analyzing the information after the report is finalized, Sayer said.
The group outlined six recommendations during its last public meeting:
Æ Continue working with the U.S. Department of Energy to address remaining environmental risks at the Idaho National Lab.
Æ Exercise leadership as the U.S. formulates federal energy and nuclear waste management policies.
Æ Capitalize on Idaho’s nuclear technology competencies by supporting the growth of existing nuclear businesses and attract new ones.
Æ Invest in research infrastructure to enable INL and Idaho universities to successfully compete for U.S. and global research opportunities.
Æ Develop and promote the Center for Advanced Energy Studies as a regional, national and global resource for energy research.
Æ Strengthen and expand nuclear education and workforce training offerings.
PUBLIC COMMENTS TO BE SHARED
The commission’s report is meant to offer direction and establish policy guidelines on the future of nuclear energy and the Idaho National Laboratory in the state, Sayer said.
Members are expected to receive the final draft of the 80-page report early in the week for final review.
More than 270 public comments gathered by the commission also will be made available at that time.
The public deserves to know more about the commission’s recommendations concerning long-term storage facilities in Idaho, Snake River Alliance Executive Director Liz Woodruff said.
“After today, we have less clarity on what the final report is going to look like because what it sounds like is there will be sub-recommendations that come under those (six) broad categories,” she said. “While we had some relief when we saw that lifting the ban on commercial radioactive waste wasn't in those six, I would say that we are concerned that that element will still be in the final report.”
INL Director John Grossenbacher agreed with other commissioners that more time and feedback are necessary beyond the final report.
The commission released its preliminary report in December, suggesting the state look into a pilot interim storage facility that bring jobs and investments to Idaho.
That would require state officials and residents to re-evaluate the 1995 Settlement Agreement, which allowed for interim storage of spent nuclear fuel over a 40-year period, but requires that all spent fuel be removed from the state no later than 2035.
Woodruff said the commission shouldn’t consider messing with the deal.
“We have had that conversation, and there is not clarity on a federal level to what the (storage) table looks like,” Woodruff said. “For Idaho to keep insisting on sitting at a table that doesn’t exist yet doesn’t seem wise; it seems irresponsible.”