Agency considering Three Mile Island nuclear debris in Idaho | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Agency considering Three Mile Island nuclear debris in Idaho

Associated Press
1682959_web1_1682959-9ab332bf398b43dfb066dd46e20f3e53
AP
Nuclear waste stored in underground containers at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls, Idaho. Federal authorities want to store the partially melted core from one of the United States’ worst nuclear power accidents for another 20 years in Idaho.

BOISE, Idaho — The partially melted reactor core from the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history could remain in Idaho for another 20 years if regulators finalize a license extension sought by the Energy Department, officials said Monday.

The core from Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania partially melted in 1979, an event that changed the way Americans view nuclear technology.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has determined there would be no significant impact from extending the license to store the core at the 890-square-mile site that includes Idaho National Laboratory.

“No significant radiological or non-radiological impacts are expected from continued normal operations,” the commission said about its finding.

The agency would also have to complete a safety evaluation report before renewing the license. Commission spokesman David McIntyre said that will likely happen in the next several days.

Holly Harris, executive director of the Idaho-based nuclear watchdog group Snake River Alliance, wasn’t immediately available to comment.

The Energy Department site sits atop the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, a Lake Erie-size underground body of water that supplies cities and farms in the region with water.

The new license would be good through 2039, four years past a deadline the Energy Department initially set with Idaho to remove the radioactive waste.

State and federal officials say the waste could still be shipped out of Idaho ahead of the 2035 deadline and would not affect the 1995 agreement that contains penalties for missed deadlines.

Idaho is already fining the Energy Department for missing a deadline involving radioactive liquid waste stored at the site.

It’s not clear where the Three Mile Island waste could be moved, as the U.S. doesn’t have a designated repository.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says there’s some 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at commercial nuclear sites around the country because there’s no place else to put it.

The Department of Energy said no additional material would be added to the waste storage site in Idaho.

The previous license expired in March. It said the maximum amount of Three Mile Island debris that could be stored at the Idaho site was 183,000 pounds of damaged nuclear fuel assemblies and 308,000 pounds of material removed from the reactor vessel.

Court battles between Idaho and the federal government culminated with the 1995 agreement requiring the Energy Department to clean up the Idaho site as well as prevent the area from becoming the nation’s nuclear waste dump.

Exelon Generation, the company that owns the remaining nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island, has said it will shut down the facility by the end of this month.

The company blamed economic challenges and what it said are market flaws that fail to recognize the value of nuclear plants.

Categories: Business | Wire stories
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.