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I returned to Idaho in April 2017 after serving in the Air Force in Glendale, Arizona. Looking for things to do, I found a small ad in the Idaho Statesman for volunteers to serve on a citizen’s advisory board for the ICP, which is tasked with the job of cleaning up nuclear waste at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site.  It sounded like something interesting, so I applied and was accepted given that I could give a public health perspective as a Nurse Practitioner.

My first meeting was in Idaho Falls in June of 2018. That meeting laid out the responsibilities of the board members and the outline of the mission.  It was a little overwhelming since there are many people and agencies involved in the project. There was also a VERY big binder with tons of information. Luckily, in the very thick packet of information there was a table of acronyms that I could reference. The list of acronyms is three pages and there are 180!  I thought nursing and the Air Force had a lot of acronyms. We had speakers from government agencies involved and from Fluor Idaho, the company doing the cleanup. Teri, another newbie, sat next to me and we exchanged several puzzled looks throughout the day. Ask her about calcine.

I started learning the language of nuclear waste. Ask me about calcine.  I also started learning the names and backgrounds of my fellow board members. I was impressed by the varied backgrounds and experience of the board members. I felt privileged and humble to be among such dedicated people who are giving their time and knowledge for this project. We also took a tour of the facilities that was invaluable in experiencing the process. I found the workers at the site dedicated to their jobs and the cleanup mission. Included in the meeting we had at Fort Hall was an archeological tour led by archeologists and representatives of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes. That was an incredible tour and I learned more about this valuable area and the deep meaning to the Shoshone-Bannock people. It is so important that the people involved in the cleanup project are cognizant of this. I also learned what a “stink bug” is called in the Shoshone language. Don’t ask me to spell it though.

We meet quarterly in different places and have met in Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, and Fort Hall this year. Our next meeting is in Jackson.  In between meetings we have had ad hoc committee meetings online to address such things as public outreach. I am getting more comfortable at the meetings and it doesn’t hurt that we get meals provided for working lunches. Thank you, Jordan.

I am proud to serve on the ICP CAB and I encourage others to volunteer or give feedback to members. There is are public comment periods at each CAB meeting where the general public can provide input.