What The Navy's Proposed $1.6 Billion Nuclear Facility Means For Idaho

Dec 29, 2016

Earlier this month, the Navy announced plans to build a $1.6 billion facility in Idaho to handle fuel waste from the nation’s nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers over the next forty years. The new structure will be built on the Idaho National Laboratory site about 50 miles from Idaho Falls.

Keith Ridler with the Associated Press has been following this story, and says Idaho officials are in favor of the facility. 

"The state doesn't have concerns over the Navy part of this," says Ridler. "In fact, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is for the new facility [and] Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is for the new facility as well."

Ridler says state officials are OK with the new facility because the Navy has followed the stipulations under the 1995 Settlement Agreement, which governs handling and storage of nuclear waste at the Idaho National Laboratory. On the other hand, Wasden remains at odds with the Department of Energy over missed deadlines to remove waste under the settlement. 

One of the environmental concerns is around the Snake River Plain Aquifer, which provides drinking water for about 200,000 Idahoans. 

"The Snake River Alliance is the nuclear watchdog group and their main concern with the Navy facility is that spent nuclear fuel will remain out at that INL site past 2035. But otherwise, they want it handled safely as well."

Plans for the proposed facility began in 2010 and it has already gone through a public comment period. Next up is site preparation, with construction beginning in 2019 and a planned opening in 2024.

Ridler says 360 jobs will be created, with much of the $1.6 billion price tag going toward wages. 

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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