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Idaho final port-of-call for spent nuclear fuel from U.S.S. Enterprise

By By Caleb James, Reporter
Published On: Nov 13 2012 07:11:28 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 13 2012 07:24:30 PM CST

Caleb James reports.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

Used nuclear fuel from the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier will soon be on its way to Idaho. 

The vessel will be de-commissioned on December 1st, and now the Naval Reactors Facility at the Idaho National Lab will study the fuel for research purposes.

Nuclear watchdog group Snake River Alliance on Tuesday said more nuclear material coming into Idaho is never a good thing because right now, one of the main objectives at the site is to get waste out of the state.     

On the other side of the table, the Partnership for Science and Technology said Idaho has always been the destination for spent fuels, and they help develop new technologies. 

"They hate it when you call it waste," said Partnership for Science and Technology director Lane Allgood. 

The partnership is a lobby group for Idaho's nuclear future. Allgood said the Navy has always sent its spent nuclear fuel here.

"There's still a lot of valuable properties in that fuel," he said. They study that and determine how to best develop the next wave of nuclear reactors."

Allgood said the fuel shouldn't be looked at as waste. 

But on Tuesday, Snake River Alliance nuclear program director Beatrice Brailsford said that's exactly what it is. 

"The commercial industry regards spent nuclear fuel as nuclear waste," said Brailsford. 

She said Idaho's position as the final port-of-call for spent fuels has been a, "historical accident."

"No one can be complacent that nuclear navy fuel comes to Idaho," she said. "But we can also not ever accept the notion that, 'Oh, we have a little bit of radio active waste here, let's accept a lot more.'"

Fuel from the Enterprise is set to arrive in Idaho by 2015.

Part of a waste removal timetable allows for the Naval Reactors Facility to keep a limited amount of spent fuel past 2035. 

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