Idaho State Journal
INEEL's future is bright, full of challenges
Sunday, December 24, 2000
The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory
faces important challenges in coming months, and site officials
appear optimistic those challenges will be met.
We hope to see significant progress made in two important areas:
cleanup and mitigation of environmental degradations; and consolidation
of the site as a leading research and development laboratory.
Laboratory director Bill Shipp, who works for Bechtel BBWI,
the company contracted with by the Department of Energy to run
the site, says there is every reason to believe that progress
will be forthcoming. For instance:
n He says that all the spent fuel and reactor debris from the
Three-mile Island nuclear plant will be placed into dry storage
by June 2001 - one of the state-mandated deadlines in the site's
overall efforts to remove hazardous waste from Idaho by 2018.
The fuel and debris are currently stored under water at the site.
Shipp acknowledged last week that meeting the deadline would
be difficult, but put the chances at "better than 50/50."
n By the end of 2002, the site is scheduled to remove 3,100
cubic meters of transuranic waste - material that has come in
contact with other radioactive material at Colorado's Rocky Flats
weapons plant. That deadline, too, will be tight, Shipp said,
but he's confident it will be met.
Additionally, we're pleased that Shipp is cognizant of the site's
economic value to eastern Idaho. The INEEL is easily the most
economically important employer in the region.
It's easy to forget that the INEEL is one of only nine national
laboratories in the United States. It's a vital national resource
and one of two labs with the capability to continue atomic research
while pursuing other experimental avenues. This, we firmly believe,
gives the INEEL a leg up in its efforts to remain a long-time
economic asset for our region.
Along those lines, Bechtel has forged ahead with its relationships
with colleges and universities in the Pacific Northwest, including
Idaho State University. And it is expanding its horizons outside
of the nuclear arena and devoting more resources to a number
of environmental issues facing the region and the nation.
INEEL officials should remember that while the research and
development operations they are involved in count most importantly
in the long-term viability of the site, much of their political
and popular support will hinge on the effectiveness of their
We feel good about INEEL's future, and we encourage Shipp, other
Bechtel officials and DOE officials to do their best to ensure
that nuclear waste is dealt with as scheduled.