Idaho State Journal
Tuesday, January 25, 2000
INEEL meets the public in Jackson Hole
Mixed-waste incinerator expected to be hot
By Anne Minard
POCATELLO - A public meeting in Jackson Hole Tuesday
night should shed light on public opinion regarding a mixed-waste
incinerator Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory hopes
The meeting will begin 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Jackson Hole
Middle School, 1230 South Park Loop Road.
Last week, the environmental
group Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free, based in Jackson, bought a full-page
newspaper advertisement to warn about the possible effects of an accident
at the proposed incinerator.
The group distributed hundreds of copies
of the ad at the University of Idaho potato conference last week at Idaho
State University to target southeastern Idaho's spud farmers. It claims
winds will send the incinerator's radioactive particulate their way.
But Gerald Macke, a technician for the National Weather Service, said
vailing winds in southeastern Idaho "12 months out of the
year" blow toward the southwest. Jackson Hole lies almost due east of the
proposed incinerator site.
Allan Jines, a spokesman for the U.S.
Department of Energy in Idaho, said tests have been conducted for 30 years
to ensure the safety of incinerators like the one proposed.
DOE has used computer simulations that take into account complex wind
patterns in the area, and all areas within a 50-mile radius are predicted
to be "well below" federal health regulations for pollutants.
addition, monitors will be installed to measure the amount of emissions
discharged. Idaho officials also will be able to view a constant,
real-time output of emissions.
The waste to be incinerated was shipped
to INEEL from the Rocky Flats site in Colorado. Shipments were buried in
the ground at INEEL from 1954 to 1970. That waste remains underground, and
tests are under way to explore what's there and how best to treat
After 1970, INEEL began storing that same waste above ground in
specially equipped structures. There is about 65,000 cubic meters or more
than 300,000 barrels of the waste in above-ground storage. Twenty-two
percent of that waste will be treated with the incinerator, and the rest
will be processed by other methods, Jines said.
In a legal settlement
signed last October, DOE is required to ship all of its transuranic waste"
to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico by 2015. No fewer
than 3,100 cubic meters - about 15,000 barrels - must be out of Idaho by
Dec. 31, 2002.
But without an incinerator to rid the waste of PCB
contaminants and organic waste, WIPP won't accept it.
the incinerator is scheduled to begin this March, depending on when the
state issues the required permits.
"We've not missed any milestone
settlement agreements to date, and we're not going to miss them," Ron
King, director of communications for DOE, said last week.
Minard covers the environment and INEEL for the Journal. She may be
reached by phone at 239-3168, or by e-mail at email@example.com.