State, federal officials agree on Idaho National Laboratory clean-up

Chris Rizo Jul. 1, 2008, 3:16pm

Lawrence Wasden (R)

BOISE, Idaho (Legal Newsine)-Idaho and the U.S. Department of Energy have signed an agreement for the removal of transuranic waste from the Idaho National Laboratory, officials said.

The toxic cleanup plan is aimed at protecting the Snake River Aquifer, which provides drinking water to most of Southern Idaho, from the plutonium contamination at the Eastern Idaho site.

Utah Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said although the agreement is "not perfect," it will protect the aquifer.

There was a similar clean-up deal between the state and federal government, reached in 1995. That deal stalled after the federal government later challenged the agreement, resulting in a lengthy lawsuit.

But U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge in May 2006 ruled that the Department of Energy must remove waste unless there were concerns for workers at the remote desert site.

The Department of Energy appealed the deal to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the trial court's decision.

"Although our litigation was lengthy, it concluded in a sensible agreement to fulfill DOE's commitment to Idaho," Wasden said.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, a Republican, said the agreement "reflects years of effort, scientific advancement, diligent follow-up, and most of all building trust."

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