Snow closes INL, cleanup operations on desert site

Idaho National Laboratory and cleanup operations on the desert site are curtailed today due to snow. Thousands of employees have the day off.

INL’s Idaho Falls campus is open, though the Center for Advanced Energy Studies is closed. In-town lab employees were encouraged to communicate with their manager about conditions, and many came to work late due to road conditions, spokeswoman Sarah Robertson said.

Cleanup contractor Fluor Idaho’s site operations and Idaho Falls office were both closed Tuesday, spokeswoman Ann Riedesel said. It’s a rare occurrence that site operations are shut down due to snow, she said, though earlier this month there was a delayed start due to weather.

INL and Fluor have been coordinating to bring essential employees, such as security, to the site for shift changes. Only a handful of buses have traveled to the site so far today, each following a snowplow, Robertson said.

U.S. Highway 26 from Blackfoot to the site remained closed due to drifting snow late Tuesday morning, according to the Idaho Transportation Department. Robertson said ITD snowplows have worked 36 hours straight to keep U.S. Highway 20 mostly clear.

Due to the especially snowy winter, INL has been frequently sending scouts along the highway early in the morning, to report conditions back to bus drivers, Robertson said.

Officials said they expect operations to return to normal Wednesday. The forecast calls for cloudy weather the rest of the work week, but no snow.