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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Our View

Idaho senators embrace Trojan Horse

If Idaho’s senators had seen the recent movie "Troy," they might not have been so quick to embrace a Trojan Horse. They would have been reminded of the folly of welcoming attractive gifts that may eventually disgorge very ugly contents.

Earlier this month, Sen. Larry Craig and Sen. Mike Crapo embraced $350 million in nuclear cleanup funds from the U.S. Department of Energy in exchange for their votes to allow the department to reclassify high-level nuclear waste so it could remain on site at Savannah River in South Carolina.

DOE had threatened to withhold the funds from South Carolina, Idaho and Washington if its move to reclassify waste was not approved.

Both Idaho senators voted "No" on a motion that would have struck down the DOE’s move. The motion failed on a 48-48 vote.

The two ignored the advice of Idaho’s present governor and two former governors who warned publicly and loudly that reclassification will endanger the state’s 1995 agreement with the DOE. The agreement requires high-level waste to be removed from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Lab to other, safer, storage facilities outside the state.

The governors warned the senators that the "reclassified" waste, which sits above a huge underground aquifer in southern Idaho, would pose a safety threat for ages to come if it is not removed. They urged the senators to stick with them and refuse to pass the problem of high-level waste on to future generations.

Crapo argued on the floor of the Senate that the vote did not create a precedent in which Washington and Idaho will be forced to emulate South Carolina where bottom-of-the-barrel radioactive sludge will be sealed with grout and allowed to remain in the state forever.

Back home, his argument rang as hollow as the streets of Troy after it was sacked by the Greeks.

The DOE now knows that when it threatens, Idaho will fold in the face of blackmail. It knows it can have its way in the state for puny amounts of money. It knows that if it makes senators look like they are bringing home the bacon in the short term, it doesn’t have to worry about the long-term effects of nuclear waste on a sparsely populated state a long way from the corridors of power.

Until Idaho senators welcomed the Trojan Horse, the DOE had no option but to remove high-level nuclear waste from Idaho. It had no option but to obey a federal court ruling prohibiting reclassifying waste and leaving it in the tanks.

Will the sacking of Idaho be next?


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.