Casper Star-Tribune
Casper, Wyoming

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Company still pushing nuclear dump

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A company still wants to build a nuclear waste storage site north of Shoshoni despite a lack of funding and opposition from environmentalists.

Robert Anderson, a Riverton lawyer and president of Newcorp, pleaded his company's case before the Joint Interim Revenue Committee last week.

He told the state lawmakers that the proposed Owl Creek project 10 miles north of Shoshoni would bring in $14 million to $35 million in state revenue each year for 40 years.

But Newcorp still has no firm plans. It is largely hampered by its need for about $100 million to cover environmental and economic impact studies, engineering work, legal bills and construction.

"There is nothing immediate. There's nothing tomorrow or five months from now," Anderson said late Wednesday.

Still, Anderson feels the national mood is changing and more people, including environmental organizations like the National Resource Defense League and England's Green Party, support nuclear power over other types of energy.

"It's simply a fact that nuclear power is environmentally clean. All the other types of fuels we burn put their waste in the air," he said.

He conceded that nuclear energy carries a lot of political and emotional baggage but said those who are undecided will support nuclear power when they realize the nation's energy needs and the limits of fossil-fuel pollution controls.

"You can only put so many scrubbers on lawn mowers, cars and power plants," he said. "People who are better schooled in the global picture conclude that nuclear power will continue to have its place in the world."

Christine Lichenfels, associate director of the Wyoming Outdoor Council in Lander, said on Thursday that problems with nuclear power, like storage of spent fuel, never have been addressed.

"I don't think the mood has changed," she said. She predicted that most Fremont County residents will fight having to live near a "nuclear garbage dump."

And while the Bush-Cheney national energy plan supports nuclear power component, she said, that doesn't mean the public supports it.

She pointed to the opposition in Jackson to a nuclear waste incinerator at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory in Idaho Falls. Under threat of a $1 billion lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Energy suspended the proposal.

As for Anderson's persistence through the years, Lichenfels said, "I guess that's his vision of dollar signs."

Anderson said Wyoming is the only state that has a law spelling out the process of application for fuel rods storage.

The 1995 law involves two steps. One would require the project sponsors to go to the governor and the Legislature's Management Council for an interim study.

The second step is to file a final application. Anderson said his group went through step one but not step two because of a lack of funds.

Tuesday, the Joint Revenue Committee decided to consider several revenue options to look at later, including various fees and taxes for a fuel rod storage project.

Anderson said the Newcorp project would pay a $5 per kilogram, up-front, one-time fee that would amount to $62 million for the state. There would also be a $1 per kilogram annual storage fee and a hazardous waste transportation fee.

The state Senate last winter killed a bill that framed a tax structure for storing spent nuclear fuel rods in Wyoming.