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For the week of January 3 through January 9, 2001

Idahoís a dump

The out-of-sight out-of-mind technique of dealing with serious problems has not disappeared among nuclear waste regulators.

While state and federal regulators spend millions to find ways to sort, stabilize and remove nuclear waste from the Idaho National Environmental and Engineering Laboratory, low-level waste is coming into the state through the backdoor and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is ignoring it.

The federal NRC earlier this month refused to close a regulatory loophole that will allow a half a million tons of low-level radioactive waste to be brought to Idaho. The waste is going to a private business, Envirosafe Services of Idaho, Inc. near Grand View.

The facility is not licensed to dispose of radioactive waste. That hasnít stopped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from transferring waste from former Manhattan Project sites to Envirosafe for the past 18 months.,

Ironically, if the waste had been produced at a FERC-licensed site after 1978, it would be considered radioactive and regulated.

The Snake River Alliance, a nuclear watchdog group, pointed out the obvious and outrageous inconsistency when it asked the NRC to regulate disposal of the waste.

The waste slipped through a federal loophole with nary a peep of protest from the state.

The feds are treating Idaho like a dump. Yet, with no protest from the governor, the Legislature, or Idahoís congressional delegation about ludicrous loopholes like this one, why should they treat it any other way?


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