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Anti-Nuclear Group Says Governor Backs Down From Earlier Warnings

February 24, 1989

BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus said he acted in the interests of national security when he partially lifted a ban on the shipments of nuclear waste into the state.

But anti-nuclear activists said the issue is not national security, but a burgeoning radioactive waste supply with no place to go.

Andrus announced Thursday that he will allow temporary shipments of transuranic and low-level radioactive waste into the state. The shipments are to come only from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in Colorado, and only for the next six months.

The governor said two railroad boxcars per month will be accepted from the Rocky Flats site near Denver to avoid a ″serious national security crisis″ if the facility closed down.

An average of four boxcars per month were shipped from the Colorado plant to the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory before Andrus closed Idaho’s borders to waste shipments last Oct. 19.

Partially lifting the ban on new shipments will allow Rocky Flats to remain open and give the DOE time to clear up problems that have delayed opening of its Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a permanent waste storage site near Carlsbad, N.M.

Sen. James McClure, R-Idaho, and Rep. Richard Stallings, D-Idaho, both supported Andrus’ decision. McClure called it ″recognition of the fact that this is a national issue that has clear and serious implications for our deterrent forces.″

But Elizabeth Paul, the executive director of the anti-nuclear Snake River Alliance, criticized the governor for softening his stance since January, when he said the DOE should stop producing weapons if it cannot come up with long- term waste solutions.

Ms. Paul said there is ″no reasonable evidence″ that shutting down Rocky Flats would jeopardize national security.

Another Snake River board member, Fritz Bjornsen, agreed, saying, ″The crisis is in radioactive waste management, not national security.″

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