INL Oversight Program
The INL Oversight Program evaluates the actual or potential environmental and public health impacts of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) activities at the INL. To do this, staff regularly visit the INL site, review and comment on DOE planning and decision-making documents, and keep up-to-date on how facilities are managed.
The INL Oversight Program also tracks inventories of various types of nuclear waste at the INL and how they are handled. Information gathered through oversight activities helps determine where monitoring should be focused and may also be used to guide emergency planning efforts.
The INL Oversight Program represents Idaho as a member of the Western Governors' Association WIPP Transportation Technical Advisory Group. The group works collaboratively with the DOE to maintain a comprehensive transportation safety program to ensure the safe and uneventful shipment of radioactive wastes within the Western States.
For decades, beginning in 1949, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) designed, built, and tested experimental nuclear reactors at an 890 square mile area located in southeast Idaho now known as the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site. The INL Site is home to the Naval Reactor Facility where the U.S. Navy transports spent nuclear fuel from submarines and carriers for examination and temporary storage. The INL Site has also been used in the past to store nuclear waste from out of state operations.
Early activities at the INL took place in secrecy during the Cold War. When the Cold War ended in the 1980s, Idahoans expressed concerns about environmental and health impacts that may have resulted from past activities at the INL Site. As a result, the Idaho Legislature established a comprehensive state oversight program in 1989 to independently assess impacts from the INL. In 1990, Idaho became the first state in the nation to negotiate an agreement with the DOE to provide funding for the independent monitoring and oversight of a DOE facility. This work is now carried out by DEQ’s INL Oversight Program.
A major responsibility of the INL Oversight Program is to ensure DOE’s compliance with legal agreements. Learn more.
Over the years, the INL Oversight Program has developed an extensive monitoring network to evaluate the effects of the INL on public health and the environment. Air, water, terrestrial (soil and milk) and external radiation samples are taken at various locations. Learn more.
Periodically the INL Oversight Program conducts extensive research on INL-related topics and publishes the results in its Monitor newsletters available here.
Emergency Preparedness Activities
Emergencies involving radioactive materials can occur on the INL, but such emergencies can also happen on transportation routes or in other enterprises that use radioactive materials, (i.e., hospitals, research facilities, technology companies or engineering firms). The INL Oversight Program engages in both emergency planning and response activities. Learn more.
Radiation is energy that comes from both natural and manmade sources. Radiation is all around us. Most of our exposure to radiation comes from natural sources, such as the atmosphere, soil and water, food, and even our own bodies. Too much exposure to radiation can be harmful. Learn about the types of radiation and their penetration capabilities here.