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Idaho State News

Nuclear Waste Transportation Draws Opposition in West

Eric Tegethoff | Public News Service Producer

Radioactive waste is typically stored at the site where it's generated. (MichaelVi/Adobe Stock)

(Public News Service) – Concerns are growing in the West about nuclear waste transportation.

On Tuesday, the Snake River Alliance is holding a webinar on these concerns, heightened by the potential of a temporary waste facility opening in New Mexico.

Kevin Kamps is the radioactive waste specialist for Beyond Nuclear. He said these fears are combined with the recent train derailment of toxic waste in Ohio.

He said the federal government and nuclear power industry are rushing to create the New Mexico temporary waste facility.

“These dumps that are proposed are called consolidated interim storage facilities, which means it’s only temporary and the waste will have to move again,” said Kamps. “So it’s really wrongheaded. It’s going to automatically double transportation risks.”

In May, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a license for the temporary waste site in New Mexico.

The Biden administration says nuclear power is a key component for the country’s clean energy future. However, state officials in New Mexico have voiced their opposition to the facility.

Nuclear waste also is a concern in Idaho. Experiments are starting on new nuclear reactor designs such as small modular reactors at the Idaho National Laboratory.

However, Kamps pointed out that recent research found these SMRs generate two to 30 times the amount of radioactive waste as traditional nuclear reactors.

“So another downside of all this SMR talk,” said Kamps, “which unfortunately Idaho is on the cutting edge of.”

Kamps said he believes the country is living on borrowed time when it comes to the potential for disaster from nuclear power.

“We really should be transitioning into a renewable energy economy in this country,” said Kamps, “which is much safer, much more secure and actually much more cost effective than nuclear power.”