b'P ROVING THE P RINCIPLEIn November 1979 the INEL monitor- lic hearings and other opportunities to of a cover-up. The INEL had beening program found a trace of tritium in get their messages to the press, the pub- cleared once more of taking undue risksa water sample taken from the aquifer lic, and the politicians. with public safety. Nevertheless, thenear the southern INEL boundary. The committee recommended that the prac-press covered this news, and explained For the first time since 1949, the finely tice of discharging radioactive liquidthat it had come from the Chem Plant meshed network of interests protecting wastes through the injection well to theinjection well. The news provoked a and nurturing the INEL was forced to aquifer be discontinued in favor ofpublic reaction similar to the earlier one contend with an antagonistic network some other alternative that wouldabout the TRU buried at the Site, and fighting for different goals. The gover- somehow prove to be more accept-again Senator Frank Church called for nors office, while not a complete able. Public perceptions were impor-an investigation. 24 dropout from the old network, had to tant, it said. 26acknowledge the new network and theBy this time, grass roots environmental electorate it represented. The task force advised the governor toand peace movements in Idaho had gath- do everything possible to prevent thisered momentum and were strong enough The public was alarmed at INELs overt low-level waste from entering theto help build the public pressure and deliberate introduction of a radioac- a qu f. Idaho should improve its inde-i e rEvans had invited. The Idaho tive substance directly into the aquifer. pendent monitoring capability, it said,Conservation League had organized in How could this be safe? Evans read their repeating a suggestion made to Anrsd u 1973 and its membership grew quickly letters and realized that the State had to by a previous committee. 27 throughout the 1970s. Its agenda was provide a counterweight to the publicsbroadly aimed at several issues, includ- faltering confidence in the INEL. Once The next three years saw the campaigning wilderness preservation and energymore, a governor of Idaho created a spe- to plug the injection well unfold at sev-conservation. In response to the news cial task force of distinguished authori- eral venues. The IDO hired the Fluorabout the injection well, a group of envi- ties to investigate the situation at INEL Corporation to analyze how the Chemronmentalists and pacifists in Boise and make recommendations. Once more Plant operations might be engineered too rganized the Snake River Alliance to the IDO conducted tours and answered end the injection of tritium-contaminatedwork for the closure of the well and an questions. The IDO reminded the group w at e. The governor gave the Fluorrend to the practice of waste injection. that it had been sending quarterly and study time to mature and in the mean-The group quickly recruited members, annual monitoring reports to the gover- time protested DOE waste shipmentsparticularly in the Twin Falls area where nor and Idahos health officers for years. into Idaho. He redoubled his efforts tocitizens felt themselves potentially in the The practice was no secret. Monitoring accelerate the moment when a nationaldirect path of the hazard. Aside from its would continue. Site drinking water was storage facility would relieve the state.objection to the well, the Snake River safe. Chem Plant improvements already By this time, DOE had settled on a loca- Alliance evinced a mistrust of the DOE had reduced the amount of tritium enter- tion in New Mexico for a Was t eand a concern that nuclear fuels could be ing the waste stream. The State was wel- Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a projectdirected toward weapons production. come to take its own samples. 2 5 replacing the salt mine in Kansas as aOther groups such as the Groundwater potential repository for TRU waste. AAlliance based in Ketchum, Idaho, also The task force traveled around the state date for moving any waste from Idahoor ganized and found common cause and heard public comments. In the end, had moved into the mid-1980s.with the Snake River Alliance.it concluded that no immediate healthhazard exists, and it seems unlikely that The Snake River Alliance and its asso-These groups held meetings, published a long-term hazard is posed by current ciates kept the waste issue alive in theirnewsletters, appeared at hearings, disposal practices. It complimented newsletters and meetings. In Septemberscraped together funds, and learned to the INEL for its forthright and help- 1980 they held a protest rally nearmake the most of NEPA-mandated pub- ful assistance and noted no evidence EBR-I, calling for an end to the injec-220'