Nuclear

Idaho National Laboratory

Some cleanup efforts at a nuclear waste landfill in eastern Idaho are on hold while workers try to figure out what caused a collapse in a dig area that sent an excavator into a pit.

The excavator was digging up transuranic waste — which is waste contaminated with highly radioactive elements.

No radiation was released during the incident last Thursday, and no one was injured, said Erik Simpson with Fluor Idaho, the contractor hired to clean up the site at the Idaho National Laboratory.

ulalume / Flickr Creative Commons

In Washington D.C., a bipartisan group of senators this week introduced a new piece of legislation dealing with nuclear energy, called the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act. Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo (R) and Sen. Jim Risch (R) introduced the bill with Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah (R), as well as Democratic senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Courtesy of American Center for Law and Justice

Iran's deputy foreign minister says Iranian diplomats discussed the case of Americans still held captive by Tehran. That includes Boise pastor Saeed Abedini. The issue was raised on the sidelines of negotiations in Vienna earlier this month that led to the landmark deal on curbing Iran's nuclear program.

Abbas Araghchi told reporters in the Iranian capital on Wednesday that cases of "imprisoned citizens" were discussed with their American counterparts during the nuclear talks.

He says "humanitarian" reasons had motivated the discussion but did not elaborate.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Disappointed. That’s how Naghmeh Abedini describes finding out the release of her husband was not included in the Iran nuclear deal announced Tuesday.

Her husband, Saeed Abedini, is a pastor from Boise. He has been held in prison in Iran since 2012. He was convicted of undermining state security for forming private Christian churches in homes in Iran, and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

inl.gov

Scientists say a continued drop in underground water levels could make it harder to monitor the movement of radioactive contamination in an aquifer below an eastern Idaho nuclear facility.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey in a 36-page report released Monday say the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer has dropped below two wells and about a dozen more could go dry due to drought.

Courtesy of American Center for Law and Justice

In the midst of an unexpected break in Iranian nuclear talks, President Barack Obama is calling for the return of Americans held in Iran, including Boise pastor Saeed Abedini.

In a message commemorating the Persian New Year, Obama says it's a time for families to be reunited.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute announced Monday that trace amounts of radioactivity from Fukushima have been detected off the West Coast.

The federal agency that watches over the nuclear power industry is taking a close look at the Columbia Generating Station in southeast Washington this week.

That’s because the plant had a problem with the cooling system for a room of important electrical equipment. It wasn’t properly maintained. Energy Northwest self-reported the issue to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

NRC spokesman Victor Dricks says the public was never in any danger, because there were backup systems in place.  But he says it's still worth a closer look.

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Up to three gallons of radioactive waste per day at Hanford seeps into the desert sand from underground tanks, not far from the Columbia River. That’s prompted Washington State Governor Jay Inslee to tour the remote site along with buses full of officials and media that roll through a sea of sagebrush.

The buses slow near some of the leaking radioactive underground tanks. Tom Fletcher, who manages the containment farms, points out the various groupings.

RICHLAND, Wash. – It may take two to four years to even begin clearing radioactive waste from leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. That’s according to Washington Governor Jay Inslee. He toured the southeast Washington nuclear site Wednesday.

The Idaho nuclear task force presented its final report to lawmakers Wednesday afternoon. It’s raising concerns from environmentalists who say it leaves the door open to transporting radioactive material into the state.  

Courtesy of Donald Wall

A year ago, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter created a task force to examine ways to examining the future of nuclear energy in the state.

The Leadership in Nuclear Energy Commission, more commonly known as the LINE Commission, released an initial list of recommendations in early December.  Next week, the group will make public its final recommendations. 

On Morning Edition Friday, we spoke with EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz for a preview. 

A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning in a federal courtroom in Boise that could affect the future of a controversial Eagle-based nuclear energy company.