The Post Register

Waste from Three Mile Island moved to new storage site


April 2, 1999

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -Just before 9 Tuesday morning, a red semi hauling the remnants of the country's worst nuclear accident began rolling across the Idaho desert at the speed of a slow tractor

There was sparse traffic and no protesters along Idaho 33, which was closed to the public for about two hours.

Only a few antelope watched the first shipment of damaged nuclear fuel from Three Mile Island as it traveled 25 miles from storage pools to a new dry storage site at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL).

The truck carrying radioactive fuel and melted debris, which was contained in a steel cask, made the trip without incident.

Officials planned to seal the damaged fuel in concrete storage in time to meet a major milestone in the state's nuclear waste pact.

It was 20 years ago this week that the Unit 2 reactor at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania lost its cooling water, leading to a partial meltdown.

The damaged fuel was shipped to the INEEL in the late 1980s, where scientists performed tests to determine what happened in the reactor. It has been stored in unlined pools at Test Area North since that research ended.

The state has pushed to move all spent nuclear fuel out of pools to lessen the possibility that leaks could contaminate the aquifer underneath the site.

Under the deal signed by the DOE, the Navy and the state in 1995, the first load of Three Mile Island fuel was to be moved into dry storage today.

Idaho Falls Post-Register