Investigation: How Washington State lost uranium plant and jobs to Idaho

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire was repeatedly pressed to support Areva's $2 billion uranium enrichment plant and told her help was critical to luring its 400 high-paying jobs to the Tri-Cities, according to e-mail and other communications obtained by the Herald.

She also was warned the company's existing fuel fabrication plant in Richland and its more than 600 jobs could be lost if Washington didn't beat four other states in the competition for the new plant - raising the potential stakes to more than 1,000 jobs and about $80 million in annual payroll.

But rather than champion a project she feared would be controversial in some environmental circles, Gregoire deployed a "balanced approach" of not publicly promoting or opposing the project.

Gregoire repeatedly was invited by Areva supporters and her staff to consider an agreement with the company to restrict in-state storage of the plant's low-level waste of depleted uranium.

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