Issues & Advocacy

Published on April 2nd, 2018 | by GrowWNYAdmin

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Public Comment for West Valley Clean Up

Written by: Lynda Schneekloth, Advocacy Chair, WNYEA

The Buffalo Niagara Region is being exposed to a risk that we should not be asked to take. The West Valley Nuclear Waste Facility has been at our headwaters for over 60 years, always dangerous and foreboding. Many rightly fear that nuclear waste could enter our waterways because of the severe weather associated with climate change. It’s been almost 60 years since this site was selected to process and store nuclear waste and we are even more certain today that the waste has not, and cannot, be securely contained at West Valley. Our mantra: DIG IT UP! Store in safely above ground, monitor it, and eventually moved to a much safer location.

PLEASE MAKE COMMENTS to the Department of Energy and NYSERDA to express your concerns. Tell these agencies what you think they should do. This is our shared home and a part of the largest body of fresh water on earth. We do not feel safe with that nuclear beast at our headwaters and if released, could contaminate this region for thousands of years. Here are some ideas for comments:

  • Protect our water in the territory and also in Buffalo, Niagara Falls and further downstream; any risk is too great and we do not consent to be exposed;
  • Study how to clean up the site with the least harm and exposure;
  • Eliminate any possibility that the waste could impact the sole source aquifer that nourishes the people on and near the reservation the waste site;
  • Protect our health now and for seven times seven generations and beyond!

All Comments are due April 23, 2018 so take a step right now to voice your thoughts. There are three ways to make comments:

LETTER: Write a letter and mail to Mr. Martin Krentz, West Valley Demonstration Project, DOE, 10282 Rock Springs Road, AC-DOE, West Valley, New York 14171-9799

EMAIL: Or send an email with your concern to SEISWestValleySite@emcbc.doe.gov

COMMENT ONLINE: You can open www.SEISWestValleySite.com, go to the section on “Public Participation,” hit “Getting Involved” and go the Comment Form that will take you to the appropriate website. Identify yourself and make your comment.

Remember to ask for “Full Clean-up!” We do not want to live with this nuclear waste in our backyard!


The nuclear project that was begun in the 1930, is vast and impacts so much of our lives. Below is a short piece written by Pat Townsend (BN 3/21/18) about one person’s interaction with radioactivity entitled, I’m a nuclear baby.

I am a nuclear baby, born in the same year that Glenn Seaborg discovered plutonium, FDR authorized the development of an atomic bomb, and the Manhattan Project began. I’ve been reluctant to admit it. Not so much that I mind anyone knowing that I was born in 1941. I don’t dye my white hair; I prefer silver to my old mouse brown. And “three-quarters of a century” sounds like a lot of wisdom acquired.

My earliest memories include sitting on the front porch and waving a little flag to celebrate the end of the war, welcoming my big cousin Curt home from the Navy from a war that ended with the dropping of two atomic bombs.

I’m a nuclear baby, off to grade school in my sturdy brown oxfords at the peak of shoe-fitting fluoroscopy. Do you remember that? It was a fascinating machine to a science-loving kid. You tried on the shoes and stuck your feet in the slot at the bottom of the machine in the shoe store. There were three eyepieces: one for me, one for the sales clerk, and one for my mom. I wiggled my toes and looked at my bones and had a whole lot more fun than just seeing if the shoes fit. I do have rather funny-shaped feet. Only today did I learn that malfunctioning machines did lead to foot problems among some of us nuclear babies, as well as cancer in shoe store clerks.

At Sisters Hospital last month, I remembered those shoe fittings when I experienced a modified barium swallow test, trying to diagnose what’s causing me to choke occasionally. It was great fun to watch the globs of applesauce slip down my gullet in the fluoroscope. Sorry, too much information, as my daughter would say.

I’m a nuclear baby, and I’m grateful for the regular mammograms that caught my breast cancer early and for the surgery and radiation treatments that I received ten years ago.

I don’t like to admit I’m a nuclear baby because I’d rather not think about the fact that I live in a state and country that is still getting a big share of its electricity from nuclear power. We’re no closer to having a safe place to put the used fuel rods than we were when I saw the movie “China Syndrome” or the television footage of Fukushima.

It hurts my heart to read in the news that impoverished North Korea is eager to sell its nuclear technology to all buyers. That the Administration wants to build “smaller, useable” nuclear weapons. That companies hope to build and sell small modular nuclear power plants all over the world.

It hurts my head to read the work of the University of Rochester geoscientists that mapped very low levels of a long-lived isotope of radioactive iodine from the West Valley nuclear site. They still blanket the soil and water of all Western New York at four times the level of the rest of the United States. While it is not likely that a bit of West Valley radionuclides caused my friend’s thyroid cancer, one little bit adds to another, and it all hangs around for millions of years, so my great-great-great-granddaughter won’t have a chance.

Humans aren’t always stupid. I am hopeful that we can do something. We ditched those shoe store fluoroscopes. We can ditch nuclear power and weaponry.

And we certainly can demand that NYSERDA and DOE do a good cleanup at the West Valley nuclear site. I guess we’re all nuclear babies now.

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