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Senate Supports INL, Idaho Water Projects

Location: Washington, DC

Senate Supports INL, Idaho Water Projects
Includes Generation IV reactor, cleanup, research, and water projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Senate subcommittee approved a slew of energy and water projects for Idaho today. The Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development approved its Fiscal Year 2006 bill. Idaho Senator Larry Craig, a member of the Subcommittee that wrote the bill, released a list of projects that are included in the bill:

Idaho Advanced Cogeneration Reactor ($40 million) - Continued development of the Next Generation Nuclear plant at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL)

The Generation IV program is the nuclear cornerstone of the US energy security policy. The best of the Generation IV advanced reactor systems need to be designed, developed, and demonstrated before 2030 in order to support the growing US energy market needs. The Next Generation Nuclear Plant in particular shows great potential to support US plans to introduce hydrogen into our transportation fuel supplies and thus alleviate our growing reliance on imported oil.

Advanced Test Reactor Fuel Fabrication and Long Range Operating Plan ($13.5 million) - Fuel and a long-range plan to continue to operate the Advanced Test Reactor at the INL

The ATR is scheduled to continue operating until 2025. The current fuel inventory procurement plan does not guarantee operations will continue past FY2008. The development of an ATR Long Range Operating Plan is complete. Additional funding is necessary for plan implementation.

This request would provide the necessary funding to implement the Long Range Operating Plan that was recommended by the Office of Nuclear Energy. The Advanced Test Reactor is the premier test reactor in the United States, and it plays a central role for the DOE in providing irradiation-testing services that support the nuclear fuel cycle and new reactor development including the next generation of power reactors.

Idaho Accelerator Center at Idaho State University ($4 million)

The Idaho Accelerator Center (IAC) at Idaho State University will use funds for continued research and development of accelerator applications, including continued development of advanced imaging technology for various applications, analysis of materials properties, reactor physics and transmutation science, nondestructive assay and evaluation of nuclear materials for homeland and national security, and undertaking fundamental nuclear measurements.

The IAC programs take advantage of the unique facilities and instrumentation developed at the IAC as radiation sources and materials analysis tools based on accelerator technology. Central to the IAC's work is continued close collaboration with the other DOE supported universities and an emphasis continues on education and training for coming generations of nuclear scientists and engineers. Other benefits that follow in education and training, collaboration with other universities and national laboratories and important relationships established with principal nuclear communities make up a comprehensive program that fits well with the goals of the Department of Energy nuclear energy programs.

National SCADA Test Bed at the INL ($5 million) - Operation of a facility to test Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, a critical component of our energy infrastructure

The project was started in FY2004 by the DOE Office of Energy Transmission and Distribution.

SCADA systems are critical to the operation of the nation's energy infrastructure and consequently our national security. The testbed will cooperate with industry to develop new concepts for reducing SCADA vulnerabilities. In the near term, the testbed will apply current technologies to identify and fix existing vulnerabilities. In the long-term, the program will design and develop advanced architectures possessing intelligent components that will increase system robustness against attack. The testbed will develop concepts related to emerging self-healing infrastructures, standards, and new electrical generation sources.

Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative ($7 million) - New funding for testing at INL of hydrogen production systems, which coincide with the development of Next Generation Nuclear Power plants

In order to meet engineering-scale hydrogen production schedules, integrated testing of the hydrogen production systems and loop testing of materials and heat exchangers must be initiated in FY2006. Loop testing of materials and heat exchangers directly supports the UNLV program and provides them with access to a test facility too large for the University environment. The nuclear hydrogen program at the present time is technically and developmentally lagging behind the NGNP high temperature reactor program.

The $20 million funding request will be used to directly support the NHI program as outlined by DOE NE-1. Funds will be used to initiate larger scale testing leading to eventual connection of a nuclear hydrogen plant to high temperature nuclear reactor designated for construction and testing at the INL.

Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative ($85 million) - A national program with significant work performed at INL, to develop and demonstrate technologies that enable the transition to a stable, long-term, environmentally and politically acceptable advanced nuclear fuel cycle

The mission of the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI) is to develop and demonstrate technologies that enable the transition to a stable, long-term, environmentally, economically, and politically acceptable advanced nuclear fuel cycle. The primary goals of the program are to:

* Reduce the long-term environmental burden of nuclear energy through more efficient disposal of waste materials
* Enhance overall nuclear fuel cycle proliferation resistance by way of improved technologies for the management of spent nuclear fuel
* Enhance energy security by recovering the unused energy in spent fuel
* Improve overall fuel cycle management, including economics and safety of the entire fuel cycle system.

Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering ($4.5 million) - Partnership with the three Idaho universities to revitalize nuclear engineering education in Idaho

This project is an initiative of Idaho State University, Boise State University, and the University of Idaho, working together as equal partners on a mission of major importance to the State of Idaho and the nation. This project has two main goals:

* Supporting the vision for the new Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to become a preeminent nuclear research and development laboratory
* Revitalizing nuclear engineering education in Idaho, making it a major national center at undergraduate and at the advanced degree level

The research component will be built around four strategic thrust areas of critical importance to INL's future:

* reactor research
* fuel cycle research
* energy policy and systems studies
* national security needs and technologies related to nuclear energy programs

The education component will address a key national need for nuclear engineers and for personnel trained in other necessary fields with a strong nuclear energy background. The nuclear engineering program will utilize a 2+2 approach, where lower division work will be completed on each of the three main campuses and then the students will move to Idaho Falls for the final two years. The project will enhance the students' educational experience through the use of internships in the major projects and research at INL.

Environment Management at the Idaho Cleanup Project ($544 million) - A $13 million increase above the Administration budget proposal. Funds will allow the Idaho National Laboratory's Idaho Cleanup Project (ICP) at the requested level of $515,513,000 would allow the site to continue progress on environmental restoration activities.

Inland Northwest Research Alliance (INRA) ($1.5 million) - INRA is a non-profit scientific and educational organization consisting of eight Western research universities, including BSU, ISU, and U of I. Funds will be used to support collaborative work between INRA and INL on the Subsurface Science Research Institute.

Synchronous Wind Turbines ($500,000) -- Research on sustainable energy utilization and production focusing on distributed wind technology systems

Indian Creek Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration ($3.3 million) - An integral component of the City of Caldwell's downtown redevelopment

The Indian Creek Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration project is the backbone of the City of Caldwell's downtown redevelopment, revitalization, and environmental enhancement initiative. The overall effort involves multiple sources of public and private funding and coordination with multiple local and federal agencies.

Rural Idaho Water Projects ($5.5 million) - Including work at Emmett, Burley, Rupert, Bonners Ferry, Donnelly, Driggs, Smelterville, and the Eastern Idaho Wastewater Authority:

* City of Emmett Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements. The purpose of this project is to eliminate suspended solid levels and pH levels in violation of the NPDES permit, and also reduce stream discharge of nutrients present in the wastewater (e.g. Phosphorus). This project will include the replacement of approximately 9,000 lineal feet of sewer line.
* City of Burley Wastewater Treatment System Project. The majority of the city's system was installed in the 1920s, with major additions in the 1960s. The most recent survey, conducted in 1976, identified significant seasonal infiltration of groundwater into parts of the system and demonstrated significant improvements must be made on service connections that are decades old.
* City of Rupert Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrade. The City of Rupert's existing wastewater treatment facility was originally constructed in the 1960s and its 1977 upgrade left the facility undersized and continually challenged by odor problems and inadequate treatment. In order to comply with State air quality and water quality regulations, the City's existing facilities need to be upgraded.
* Bonners Ferry Wastewater Facility Upgrade Project. In August of 2003, a catastrophic forest fire ravaged the municipal watershed for Bonners Ferry, Idaho, a town of 5,000 people. Erosion from the barren hillsides now threatens the city's water and the delivery system. This project will solve that problem and put in place a system that will protect the residents from future disasters and shortages.
* City of Donnelly Water System Infrastructure Improvements. The City of Donnelly is located 13 miles south of McCall and 2 miles east of the northern end of Cascade Lake. The surrounding area is experiencing rapid growth as a result of the Tamarack Resort Development located 7 miles southwest of the City. The City must improve their infrastructure to facilitate growth and annexation.
* Eastern Idaho Regional Wastewater Facility. The Eastern Idaho Regional Wastewater Facility is a proposed system of transmission lines and a modern wastewater treatment plant. This system will serve a significant and rapidly growing population base in Southeast Idaho. The project will protect the groundwater in the Upper Snake River Plain Aquifer, reduce the pollutants entering the Snake River, and provide infrastructure to support economic stimulus.
* City of Driggs Wastewater Facility Plan. Currently, the City of Driggs and several surrounding communities share a wastewater collection system that combines the wastewater to a regional wastewater treatment plant. The plant is currently facing some non-compliance issues with Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency. Improvements and upgrades need to be made to bring the facility into compliance. This requested funding will be used to complete the wastewater facility plan.
* City of Smelterville Wastewater System Upgrade. The Smelterville region is currently undertaking a large-scale effort to regionalize wastewater management and address significant inflow and infiltration (I&I) problems with collection systems. The collection pipes have failed due to cracking and joint degradation throughout the system, allowing infiltration of groundwater contaminated with heavy metals. Funds will be used to initiate construction.

Paradise Creek Ecosystem Restoration ($250,000) - Restoration and rehabilitation of certain reaches of Paradise Creek in Moscow, Idaho

This project provides for the restoration and rehabilitation of certain reaches of Paradise Creek, which is located on the campus of the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. The project relocates a portion of Paradise Creek as it exists today, moving it from a covered, encased conveyance and restoring the creek to a channel alignment approximating the creek's historical channel. The project will also construct wetland cells to facilitate research into the bioremediation of storm water run-off. Some of the benefits of this project include improved flood control, storm water mitigation, environmental improvements, aquatic and riparian habitat improvements, enhanced sustainability, enhanced research opportunities in the area of storm water mitigation and bioremediation.

Lower Boise River ($200,000) - Water resource management and use study of the lower Boise River

The lower Boise River Basin, located in one of the fastest growing regions in the western United States in the last decade, encompasses about 1,290 square miles and more than 90% of the population in this basin is dependent on ground water for drinking water. Continued population growth and land use changes in the lower Boise River Basin will drive future water resource management and use.

Dworshak Reservoir Improvements ($2.464 million) - Improvements to boat ramps, tail water fishing access, and a handicapped-accessible lift

Since construction, the seasonal operation of the dam has been changed to assist in recovery efforts for threatened and endangered salmon species, which has resulted in reductions of the normal reservoir pool elevations during the recreation season to as much as 120 feet below the full pool elevation of 1600 feet. A recent University of Idaho economic study reported $600,000 to $1.49 million annually in economic losses due to the draw down and said that improvement of boat ramps, tail water fishing access and construction of a handicap accessible lift at Dworshak Dam and Reservoir will increase visitation and better use of the recreation resources of the Dam and Reservoir.

Other ongoing water projects around Idaho within the Army Corps of Engineers or Bureau of Reclamation: Salmon River, Challis ($611,000); Albeni Falls Dam ($1.792 million); Lucky Peak Lake ($2.567 million); Boise Area Projects ($5 million); Columbia and Snake Rivers Salmon Project ($17.5 million); Idaho Investigations ($548,000); Minidoka Area Projects ($6.318 million)

Approval by the Subcommittee is the first, and most important, step in the Senate's approval process. The bill still needs to be approved by the full Committee and the Senate before going to a Conference with the House of Representatives.

Senator Craig praised the projects, "Each of these projects represents a fiscally responsible priority for the federal government. From increasing our energy independence through expanding nuclear energy to improving our water infrastructure, Idahoans win with this bill.

"I am especially pleased with the commitment to the Generation IV Reactor at INL. The Committee recognizes the impact this technology and the reactor will have on our nation."

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