Entergy Nuclear Operations shut down its Vermont power plant in 2014. But much of the waste from the facility remains, including 200,000 gallons of low-level radioactive water. The company applied for permission to truck the water across the country to a site near Grand View, Idaho, about 40 miles south of Boise.
Neil Sheehan is with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is reviewing their application. He says the Vermont company has contracted with other states: it has sent waste from the plant to Tennessee, and has an agreement in Texas.
“When they were looking at some options, this seemed to be a cost effective means of dealing with this," says Sheehan.
The public comment period has closed, but Sheehan says the transfer of the waste is not a done deal.
“We do have a petition process if any members of the public believe there’s a safety issue.”
If the deal goes through, the waste would be deposited and stored by U.S. Ecology Idaho in Grand View – just a few miles from the Snake River southwest of Mountain Home. According to the NRC’s environmental assessment, the water would be “solidified with clay and disposed as soil-like waste.” Sheehan says there would be a system to ensure possible leaks would be captured.
If the plan goes through this wouldn’t be the first time a nuclear company sent its waste to U.S. Ecology Idaho. According to company vice president Terry Geis, the site has accepted low-grade nuclear waste almost a dozen times. He says they began storing waste at the Grand View facility in 1999, and are equipped to handle it safely.
“The site is designed to have no impact outside the operating area," says Geis, "and we ensure that through a very elaborate system of groundwater monitoring wells that are spread throughout the property as well as outside the operating area.”
Below is the environmental assessment notice from NRC.
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