INEEL public meeting draws small group
Public comment invited on draft environmental impact statement for high-level waste

By Anne Minard
Journal Staff Writer
POCATELLO - Only a handful of people attended a public meeting in Pocatello Wednesday night to discuss a draft environmental impact statement for waste at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory.
The high-level waste permit will apply to 4,200 cubic meters of high-level waste and 1.4 million gallons of liquid mixed-transuranic waste from reprocessed, spent nuclear fuel.
Reprocessing was done at INEEL from 1952-1991 to recover enriched uranium from naval reactor fuel, and from miscellaneous government and special-case commercial materials.
According to a 1995 legal settlement between Idaho and the Department of Energy, closure of the liquid tanks is required by 2012. The solidified waste must be treated and prepared for shipment to an appropriate facility by 2035.
The EIS addresses nine alternatives in five categories:
no action;
continued current operations at the site;
methods to separate the waste into components of varying radioactivity levels;
methods to dispose of the waste without separation;
and minimal INEEL processing, meaning shipping the waste elsewhere for treatment.
Officials said some proposed alternatives - such as a treatment option that would solidify the waste into a glass form - lack sufficient research to indicate their effectiveness and feasibility.
"The maturity of the different technologies varies," said Brad Bugger, a DOE spokesman. "That's an issue. It's an area of uncertainty. "
Neither the state nor DOE has a preferred alternative at this time.
The 60-day comment period ends March 20. For more information, to request a copy or summary of the EIS or for more information about submitting public comments, call (888) 918-5100 or write Thomas L. Wichmann; U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho Operations Office, 850 Energy Drive, MS 1108, Idaho Falls, ID 83401-1563.
Comments can be sent to the above address, faxed to (208) 526-1184, or e-mailed to

Anne Minard covers the environment and INEEL for the Journal. She may be reached by phone at 239-3168, or by e-mail at

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