Idaho is a cheap date

  Dear HCN,

The deal that Idaho's Gov. Batt worked out with the DOE is a bad deal for Idaho and a bad deal for the rest of the West (HCN, 11/13/95). The pressure that Gov. Batt claimed to be feeling was coming mainly from Idaho's congressional delegation and, I suspect, from his political funders. Without the deal, Idaho could have possibly been forced to accept 24 shipments this year. The governor gave permission for 40 years' worth of waste shipments.

What about the guarantee that the spent fuel will leave Idaho in 2035? What the agreement says is that if the spent fuel is not removed by this date the government is subject to a $60,000/day fine, subject to Congress appropriating money for this purpose. At a press conference on the day of the signing, a high-level DOE official was asked what would happen to the waste in 40 years. He responded with a laugh. It seems unlikely that nuclear waste will be more popular in 40 years. What is more likely is that Congress, if it feels guilty and decides to pay the fine at all, will consider Idaho, at $24 million a year, a pretty cheap date.

I am not much of a conspiracy fan. I've never seen a black helicopter and the only marks on highway signs around here are the occasional gunshot wound. I have, however, seen big stainless steel casks sneaking around the West on trains in the middle of the night. Unless we can convince Congress that shipping the stuff around the country does not solve the problem, I suspect the West will be seeing a lot more of these casks.

David Hensel

Victor, Idaho