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IDAHO MAY GET ARMS PLANT IF PLUTONIUM REFINERY IS BUILT

SHARE IDAHO MAY GET ARMS PLANT IF PLUTONIUM REFINERY IS BUILT

If a laser-driven plutonium refinery is built at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory as planned, the Energy Department might move the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant from Colorado to eastern Idaho as well, a government report indicates.

In a General Accounting Office report, the Energy Department said construction of the Special Isotope Separation project may make INEL a more attractive site for bomb trigger production now handled at Rocky Flats.Information from the December report was published last week by the Idaho Falls Post-Register.

The Energy Department "is now taking a much more favorable view" of Idaho as a possible site to relocate plutonium operations, the GAO said in a report for Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo.

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, cited Energy Department officials at the Colorado plant and at the department's Washington, D.C., headquarters.

The Energy Department already plans to build the SIS plutonium refinery in Idaho and wants to locate there a New Production Reactor for defense production of tritium.