U.S. acknowledges shipping Idaho radioactive waste to Nevada and New Mexico | Local News

U.S. acknowledges shipping Idaho radioactive waste to Nevada and New Mexico | Local News

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The federal government acknowledged it has been shipping mixed radioactive waste from a nuclear cleanup site in Idaho to Nevada and New Mexico for disposal.

In a statement last week that followed a protest letter from U.S. Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada, the U.S. Department of Energy said 13,625 cubic meters of material has been sent from a former dump at the Idaho National Laboratory to the Nevada National Security Site.

The material was characterized as “low level waste/mixed low level waste,” the department said. The amount would fill more than five Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Shipments began in 2009 and are ongoing, the department said, while noting most of the Idaho waste was being sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

Nevada and the federal government have clashed several times in the past over shipments of radioactive materials to the vast former government nuclear test site in the state.

In a letter last week to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Titus said “the fact that dangerous materials could be sharing the roads with my constituents and visitors raise a number of questions for me about this shipment of nuclear materials.”

Titus, a Democrat from Las Vegas, is a retired University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor and an expert on atomic testing and American politics. She has fought for years to prevent the federal government from building a permanent storage facility for the nation’s most radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, some 90 miles north of Las Vegas.

In her letter, Titus called for the Energy Department to disclose the amount of waste to be shipped to Nevada and its classification.

“Nevada is not America’s dumping ground,” she said.

The Energy Department said last month it was completing the removal of targeted waste buried decades ago in storage drums and boxes in unlined pits at a sprawling site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory, 50 miles west of the city of Idaho Falls.

The buried waste included plutonium-contaminated filters, graphite molds, sludges containing solvents and oxidized uranium generated during nuclear weapons production work at the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado.

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