The Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Lab. Image courtesy INL. The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the state of Idaho should reach a new agreement on nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel to allow the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to continue its research activities beyond 2035, according to the facility’s director Mark Peters.

Mr Peters told the state House’s environment, energy and technology committee that an agreement signed in 1995 and presently in force, requiring all nuclear waste and spent fuel to be out of Idaho by 2035, could jeopardise the operation of the INL in the future.

According to the Associated Press, Mr Peters told lawmakers that a “conversation” on the issue will be needed over the next five years at the latest.

Last week, Idaho governor Brad Little and attorney general Lawrence Wasden signed an agreement with the DOE which would allow keeping INL’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) in operation after 2023.

Under the 1995 agreement between Idaho and the DOE, wet storage of spent nuclear fuel was prohibited past 2023 at the INL site, said a statement by the Idaho governor’s office.

The new agreement will allow the ATR to continue storing spent fuel beyond 2023 in an indoor, water-filled canal as a means of cooling the fuel after its use for research, the statement said.

The ATR is used for fuel and material testing for military, federal, university, and industry customers.

Date: Tuesday, 11 February 2020
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