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Idaho in the Nuclear Spotlight

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 By Deborah Smith/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - ID, Contact
March 8, 2007

Idaho's legislature will debate a plan today to bring a controversial new industry to the state. Lawmakers are considering sending a statement, known as a memorial, to the federal government that Idaho supports designating the Idaho National Laboratory as a site for preprocessing spent nuclear fuel.

Nuclear industry watchdog Jeremy Maxand, with Idaho's Snake River Alliance, sees the move as a contradiction to the state's agreement with the federal government over nuclear activities and waste.

"Idahoans have been on the record loud and clear that we do not support the long-term storage of nuclear waste above the Snake River aquifer."

Maxand believes a minority in Idaho are attempting to reposition the state as a major nuclear waste storage site.

"It's a complete contradiction. We have been completely clear and on the record that this is a no-no in our state; that we know what the consequences and the risks are."

Idaho has spent years struggling to reach agreements with the federal government on cleaning up leaky radioactive waste over water supplies. Supporters say a nuclear industry would be in the best interest of Idaho economically, and the state's 1995 agreement for waste cleanup would still be honored.

The hearing is scheduled before the House Environment, Energy and Technology Committee at 1:30 p.m. today, inside the Senate Joint Memorial, room 107. The memorial already has passed the Senate.

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