Story by Lauren Conte, @LaurenConte8

The United States Department of Energy has given Fluor Idaho, LLC a contract to remove waste from the Idaho National Laboratory site, according to Local News 8 and the DOE website.

The contract given to Fluor Idaho is projected to last five years and is valued for $1.4 billion, according to Local News 8.

Fluor Idaho is a subsidiary of Fluor and works alongside subcontractors and other small businesses based in Idaho, according to the Fluor website.

Fluor Idaho will uphold the DOE’s cleanup mission at the INL site under the Idaho Cleanup Project Core Contract, according to a Fluor news release.

Michael E. Long, a writer for National Geographic, said local contractors perform the cleanup operations, but the DOE supervises the work, according to a National Geographic article.

Contractors will remove and clean toxic waste and radioactive contamination, according to Local News 8.

Greg Roselle, faculty member in the geology department, said radioactive elements could become very harmful if they leak into the soil or water, but the effects of each element vary.

“It depends on what element,” Roselle said. “The things that are short lived are more dangerous because the amount of radioactivity they give off in a given amount of time is much greater that something that is long lived, but the long lived one will be around longer.”

The contract awarded to Fluor Idaho includes construction of a new Spent Fuel Handling project and facility at the INL site, according to Your Nuclear News.

Fluor said they will focus on implementing the core elements in the Idaho Cleanup Project Core, according to a Fluor news release.

“This work will support multiple national and state regulatory agreements, including the 1995 Idaho Settlement Agreement, and to seamlessly consolidate the Idaho Cleanup Project and Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project contracts,” according to a Fluor news release.

Danielle Miller, Department of Energy spokesperson, said that the conclusion of the contract with Fluor Idaho, it is expected that all transuranic waste stated in the 1995 Idaho Settlement Agreement will be dispositioned out of Idaho.

“The scope of this contract includes stabilizing and storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste; dispositioning transuranic waste; retrieving targeted buried waste from the Subsurface Disposal Area; and the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center tank farm; and maintaining Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act remedial actions,”  Miller said.

Miller said the Idaho Cleanup Project is funded by the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management and focuses on reducing risks to citizens and the environment while protecting the Snake River Plain Aquifer.

The use of interim storage facilities to contain and manage high-level waste is also safely being regulated, according to the World Nuclear Association website.

“The use of interim storage facilities currently provides an appropriate environment in which to contain and manage this amount of waste,” according to the World Nuclear Association website. “These facilities also allow for the heat and radioactivity of the waste to decay prior to long-term geological disposal.”

Charles Forsberg, executive director of the MIT Nuclear Fuel Cycle Project, said the radioactivity of waste drastically drops over time, according to NPR.

Future generations will not be in danger or at risk from the disposal of nuclear waste, according to the World Nuclear Association.

“The radioactivity of nuclear wastes naturally decays progressively and has a finite radiotoxic lifetime,” according to the World Nuclear Association.

Forsberg said that spent fuel pools are containers of water that fuel rods are submerged into after they are taken out of a reactor, according to NPR.

“The water does two things — the water provides cooling, but the other thing it does, it also provides radiation shielding,” Forsberg said to NPR.

Roselle said the way reactors are run in the United States results in a greater amount of waste compared to other countries.

“The way we currently run our reactors in this country, 90 percent of what is usable as fuel, we don’t use.” Roselle said, “So, basically, once 10 percent of our fuel is gone, with the design of our current reactors, we have to remove the fuel and get new fuel.”

Bruce Stanski, president of Fluor’s Government Group, said they are excited to be working to clean the INL site and have been a proud part of the Idaho site’s community for 50 years, according to a Fluor news release.

“We look forward to partnering with DOE to accomplish the ICP Core mission and meet the associated regulatory commitments safely, cost effectively and on time,” Stanski said.