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INL Prepares To Move Radioactive Materials With No Destination

Most of those who live in eastern Idaho know that the Idaho National Laboratory works with nuclear reactors and its waste.

What you may not be aware of is the huge undertaking to move the spent fuel out of the state.

Local News 8 got a rare up-close look at the process of moving the radioactive material and how it’s stored.

The radioactive material poses no threat to those who live in eastern Idaho.

Local News 8?s Brett Crandall walked right through the storage facility and didn’t get any more radiation than anyone else. Nonetheless the state doesn’t want the spent fuel stored there and that’s why the Department of Energy is preparing the material to move.

Jeremy Hartley’s job is to move the spent fuel from the wet storage unit at the Idaho Nuclear Technology & Engineering Center (INTECH) to dry storage.

“It was everything from nuclear experiments, in support of material testing, to commercial reactors that the government had taken ownership of to advance test reactor fuel from across the street,? Hartley said.

The federal government and the state of Idaho have an agreement to move the radio active material into dry storage by 2023 so it will be ready to be transported out of the state by 2035.

While both methods of storage prevent radioactivity from escaping, the storage units must be road ready.

“A lot of people say ‘well concrete cracks,’ and that’s true but if I watch this, take care of it and coat it, this will last as long as someone will come and take care of it so as long as there is a person interested it’ll last forever, said Three Mile Island Nuclear Facility Manager Michael Wilberg.

Wilberg has been monitoring the radioactive debris from Three Mile Island in dry storage modules for the past ten years.

“This is where it’s being kept until it goes to its final repository,? Wilberg said.

With Yucca Mountain, Nev., no longer on the table, the location of that final repository is still in question.

Wilberg said in the meantime those who live nearby have nothing to worry about.

“People want to take care of spent fuel. This is an easy safe sufficient manner,? Wilberg explained. ?I would live by them, I work with them, I stand by them. I get inside of them.”

The wet storage unit is at about 45 percent capacity so there is still quite a bit of work to do over the next 13 years, it’s just a matter of where it’s going once it’s out.

The INL stores more than 20 different spent nuclear fuel types, all of which are being moved into those dry storage units.

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