On March 31, District Judge Edwin Lodge in Boise ruled that the Energy Department can’t merely bury 900,000 gallons of plutonium-contaminated waste at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory near Idaho Falls.
Then, on May 9, District Judge Alan McDonald in Washington ordered the Energy Department to temporarily stop shipping out-of-state transuranic nuclear waste to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation southwest of Spokane.
And on July 2, District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Boise ruled that the Energy Department is taking illegal shortcuts at the Idaho lab and where the Hanford tanks are leaking radioactive waste into groundwater and the Columbia River. Winmill said the department can’t merely reclassify wastes as “incidental” to avoid moving them to a safer site (HCN, 11/11/02: Feds find shortcuts in nuclear cleanup).
“It’s a clear statement by the courts — the high-level wastes buried in large storage tanks have to come out of the ground,” says Jeremy Maxand, director of the Snake River Alliance, one of the plaintiffs.
But Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham isn’t content to accept Winmill’s ruling. On Aug. 1, Abraham sent a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., asking Congress to amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act so the Energy Department can get its way.
- Michael Welsh on Considering historical correctness in New Mexico
- Bob Laybourn on Considering historical correctness in New Mexico
- William R DeJager on Wolf pups, and the return of wild wonder
- Brad Bergstrom on Did Obama's Interior hobble the Endangered Species Act?
- Dwayne Meadows on Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River