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Idaho lab wants emissions permit for radiation

Idaho National Lab
One of the objectives of the Idaho National Laboratory is to develop new technology and materials that can be used in future nuclear power facilities.

A new facility at the Idaho National Laboratory would test the effects of radiation on the materials that could be used to build future nuclear reactors. The lab is requesting a permit from the state of Idaho and the federal EPA to allow low levels of radiation emissions.

The Department of Energy has tasked researchers there with developing the next generation of nuclear power technology. Lab spokesman Ethan Huffman says one of the challenges of nuclear energy is constructing the reactor itself.

"The idea will be to come up with a material that can be used to build a future nuclear facility or a nuclear reactor," Huffman said. "And so this laboratory will allow us to take sample materials, irradiate them in our reactor, and then examine them at a micro, at a nano level to see: How did they hold up?"

An official at the Idaho Department of Environment Quality says the air emissions permit the national lab is requesting would cover the "remote" possibility that radio-nuclides, or radioactive contaminants, could be released.

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Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.