ARCO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Governor Butch Otter helped mark a milestone out on the desert. The INL is celebrating the end of a long project.
Thursday marked the completion of the INL's Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project. Gov. Butch Otter, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and attorney general Lawrence Wasden were all there to see what progress this project has made over the past 15 years.
"You had a mission, you stood up the mission. You've completed the mission. And you've set a standard for the United States -- for the world," Otter said.
The project started back in the early 2000s. Just under 5,000 barrels of waste used to be below-ground. Especially during the last five years of retrieval, crews reached barrels that had been under the dirt for decades -- and many containers were degraded. Workers carefully dug out the barrels scattered in groups around the site, and successfully transferred them to this warehouse, which spans 7 acres.
"This is a really big day. This is a very significant accomplishment under the '95 bat agreement. It's ahead of schedule. Required a lot of commitment by a lot of folks, including the folks at the DOE and the folks here at INL, the crews who did this," said Wasden.
"The people right here close in eastern Idaho understand it. It's a message we're sending to the rest of the state of Idaho about the commitment that the state's had, the DOE's had, and particularly all the people who've worked here at the lab have had," Little said.
The next phase will be transferring the waste to WIPP -- the "Waste Isolation Pilot Plant" in New Mexico.
"You have set a standard to the world, that in Idaho we can do the impossible," Otter said.
INL and Department of Energy workers pulled this Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project off under-budget and three months ahead of schedule.