Issues & Advocacy

Published on March 19th, 2018 | by GrowWNYAdmin


Nuclear Waste Must be Secured and Our Waters Protected

Buffalo Niagara Region has a serious waste problem and perhaps none is so serious as the West Valley Nuclear Waste Facility 30 miles south of Buffalo. An array of nuclear waste has been stored and some buried on an erodible plateau since the 1960s, put in place before there were any laws on the siting of such dangerous waste. This site is managed by the Department of Energy and owned by the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, agencies responsible for cleaning up the waste and protecting public health and our waters.

Charley Bowman, of the Sierra Club Niagara Group, points out that “the protection of fresh water supplies underpins organized existence of human beings. There are enormous amounts of radioactivity (100,000’s of Curies) buried and stored at the West Valley nuclear waste site. Some of that radioactivity is escaping beyond the site boundaries and now resides in the surrounding unstable soils, trees and creeks. Some of the radioactive elements will be dangerous for millions of years.”

The Department of Energy begins Scoping Hearings for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on March 19, 20 and 21, to determine the final disposition of this waste site. Joanne Hameister who has been working with the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes since the 1970s states that her group “has been involved with the decision process for four decades. After three Environmental Impact Statements and a fourth to begin in March, billions of dollars, a lot of surveys and studies, lawsuits and many ‘duct tape’ solutions to problems, we might have a direction for the future of the site. The next decision must protect the water of the Great Lakes, Erie and Ontario, drinking water for millions of people downstream and for thousands of generations that could inherit these risks of radiation if we do not ‘do the right thing’ now. It is a big order: dig it up, secure the waste and do not forget it.”

“The government scoping meetings March 19, 20 and 21 are the public’s chance to tell the Department of Energy and NY Energy Research and Development Authority that we want full cleanup of the West Valley nuclear waste site. But the only way the deadly waste will be removed from the Great Lakes watershed is if our elected officials MAKE IT HAPPEN.” Diane D’Arrigo argues that “the Department of Energy, NYSERDA, all their contractors and other ‘regulatory agencies’ will not step up unless they are forced to do so” based on the communities experience with the 2010 Environmental Impact Statement that delayed the decision for over a decade.

The hearings will be:

  1. Monday, March 19, 2018, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
    West Valley Volunteer Hose Company, Inc., Firemen’s Memorial Hall and Training, 9091 Route 240, West Valley, NY 14171, in the Main Hall.
  2. Tuesday, March 20, 2018, from 6:00p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
    Erie Community College, City Campus, Post Office Building, 121 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, NY 14203, in the Minnie Gillette Auditorium.
  3. Wednesday, March 21, 2018, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
    Seneca Nation of Indians Cattaraugus Council Chambers, 12837 Route 438, Irving, NY 14081

Pat Townsend of the Interfaith Climate Justice Community says that she is, “already writing my comments to email them to DOE and NYSERDA during the public comment period that has just started. I remember the rainfall that caused the Gowanda flood of 2009 and the landslide it caused at West Valley. With our crazy, changing weather, who knows what erosion will do to the West Valley nuclear wastes? I’ve seen the maps: erosion could take radioactive waste right down the creeks to Lake Erie and Buffalo’s water.”

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