Jackson, Wy – A federal judge has ruled against a
Wyoming-based watchdog group in its efforts to block the U.S.
Department of Energy from upgrading an aging nuclear reactor in
Idaho that could be used to produce radioactive plutonium-238.
U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill has denied a request from
Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free. The group had asked the judge to
block the U.S. Department of Energy from operating the reactor at
the Idaho National Lab until the agency prepared a detailed
The DOE is considering using the Advanced Test Reactor at the
lab to produce plutonium for power generation in space craft and
for classified national security projects.
Winmill sated in his ruling that the DOE's was engaged in
ongoing work to make the reactor viable indefinitely, and therefore
it did not require an environmental study. Federal agencies are
required to undertake environmental studies on new, major actions.
Lawyer Mark Sullivan represented Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free
in the lawsuit. He says his clients are considering whether to