Gov. Cecil D. Andrus today banned further shipments of low-level radioactive waste into Idaho until the federal government opens a permanent repository for that waste.
“Any of this waste will be stopped at the border,” Andrus declared, accusing the government of reneging on two promises to begin moving millions of cubic feet of temporarily stored waste out of the state.
Andrus notified Energy Secretary John S. Herrington of the ban after returning from a one-day tour of the government’s proposed Waste Isolation Pilot Project repository in New Mexico.
That facility in the desert near Carlsbad was to open this month as the permanent repository for more than 2 million cubic feet of radioactive waste, brought into Idaho and now stored above ground at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, a research and training facility run by the Energy Department.
Questions About Safety
The opening, however, has been postponed until at least early next year because of questions raised about its long-range safety. After his tour, the governor said Energy Department officials could give him no firm date on when the site might open.
“It’s an outstanding facility,” Andrus said. “It appears to be well engineered. . . . If radioactive waste can be stored safely any place in the world, this is it.
“No more radioactive waste will be accepted in Idaho from any location outside this state until they have a location where this waste will be stored,” he said.