The Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes    May 2003






Time for us to step in, the time we have been waiting for.  Time to make sure the West Valley nuclear dump is closed in a way that will protect our future.


The Department of Energy is preparing an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which will determine how best to close the site.  The draft of it will be ready by about December, 2003, and at that time there will be a public hearing and written comments will be solicited.  It will include the five alternatives which are outlined below. 


One of them, alternative three, is the stated preference of the Department of Energy.  It would leave an unacceptable amount of waste on the site, burying or encasing it in concrete.


We believe this is not a suitable place to keep nuclear waste indefinitely.  It must be dug up, packaged and shipped away. Without constant attention erosion will eventually wash it all downstream into Lake Erie.  It would be irresponsible to expect that kind of attention and funding for the necessary hundreds of years.  It has been difficult enough to maintain funding for the last twenty some years; each year budget approval has been a struggle.  New York and the DOE are in the midst of a legal battle right now over this very issue. 



But is it realistic to think we can stop it?  Not without your help. Now is when we need it.

Here are some things you can do:


Give us money. We need it to help pay for legal fees.  We have tried everything short of going to court to stop DOE. So far nothing has worked. This is the only avenue left open to us.  See below for more about this lawsuit.


Talk to other people and get them interested.  Send us their e-mail addresses. We need to update and expand our e-mail Crier list.  E-mail is the only practical way to contact people and spread the word. 


Forward this Crier to people you know who could help us. In addition to the e-Crier we have informational material to share.


Come to our meetings and learn more.  We meet the first and third Thursdays of every month in the community room of the HSBC bank in Springville (near the corner of Main and North Buffalo.)  7:30 pm.




The Coalition has initiated litigation because DOE plans will adversely and irrevocably affect the population and the environment for generations to come.  


DOE split the original 1996 EIS (Environmental Impact Study) into two parts.  The first would manage the waste and clean up the facility. The second, the one at issue here, would decide the long term closure technology for the site.


Splitting the EIS into two allows DOE to do several things they couldn’t do before, things we object to.


First, it allows them to change the name of some troublesome radioactive wastes from high level to incidental to make it meet safety standards. This is an outrageous way to make something safe.


It allows NRC to postpone setting the safety criteria until DOE decides on a technology for closure. That is the equivalent of playing the game before setting the rules. It also allows NRC to avoid doing a separate EIS on the safety criteria, an EIS we believe is necessary.


The Coalition believes the radioactive contamination at West Valley should not be squirreled away with some irreversible method like concrete.  This new EIS will allow them to do that and it is their stated intention.  We believe radioactive waste should be kept in retrievable, aboveground, monitored storage.


In 1987, as a result of litigation initiated by the Coalition, DOE signed a contract with the Coalition (a Stipulation of Compromise) agreeing to do an EIS on closure and decommissioning of the West Valley nuclear waste site.  In 1996 they issued a draft EIS which has never been completed because of certain flaws it contained. 


One of those flaws was the lack of a preferred alternative. Another problem was that the 1996 draft EIS contained projections for doses to the population over the long term from the high level waste tanks were excessive.  Since then that dose has been recalculated using different assumptions and the dose was reduced by about a million fold.


Instead of completing the original EIS, or issuing a supplemental one, DOE decided to split it into two parts and rescope the second one.  (Scoping is a process at the beginning of writing an EIS which determines the content of it.)  It is this second scoping which allows them to include these things which we consider unwise.


We are not going to court just because they have violated the Stipulation of Compromise they signed with us in 1987 (although they have.)  The crucial thing is the inclusion of the reclassification of the high level waste into incidental waste, and the new role of the NRC.


We must not allow them to choose an alternative which cannot be reversed if it fails or if a better solution appears in the future.  Radioactive waste must be kept in above-ground, retrievable storage where it can be watched and dealt with if it leaks. Even if we have to go to court to stop them.




Alternative 1  Unrestricted Site Release

This alternative would satisfy the NRC’s criteria and permit termination of the license by removing the waste to a more appropriate place..  It would apply to the entire site, including both project and non-project wastes and both burial grounds.  It would evaluate onsite interim storage.


The objection to this will be its expense. The Draft EIS (to be available in December) will estimate this.


Alternative 2  Partial Site Release without Restrictions

This alternative would satisfy some of the NRC’s criteria.  It would not include the burial grounds but would institute proper infiltration controls and manage, monitor and maintain them.  It would evaluate onsite interim storage of those wastes to be removed from the site. 


The objection  is that it leaves the burial grounds on an eroding site in an unretrievable state. It would require continued monitoring and funding indefinitely.


Alternative 3  Partial Site Release with Restrictions


Wastes would be removed to extent technically and economically practical to meet some NRC criteria. Interim storage would be evaluated for wastes to be removed. The process building, vitrification facililty, tank farm, lagoons and groundwater plume would be closed in place with concrete or grout.   Other north plateau facilities would be removed.  Infiltration controls would be instituted for the burial grounds. Unimpacted areas would be released, unrestricted.


The objection is that it is irreversible and the contaminated facilities would be unretrievable.  The contamination would be covered or encased in concrete and abandoned without monitoring.  In the future, when memory has failed, records are lost, and funding questionable, it will erode into Lake Erie.


Alternative 4  Monitor and Maintain under Current Conditions


Nothing would be closed in place, just maintained. No wastes would be shipped away.


The objection to this is that it would require continual funding and monitoring.  However it would be preferable to alternatives which are irreversible.


Alternative 5  No Action     Meant only for comparative purposes





The poem below was sent in for your chuckle. We welcome any ideas you may have on this subject  (poetic or otherwise).






by Jacques Trois


In the southern tier there is a lovely valley

A sweet green valley to the west

But in this pretty valley some years ago

A rock of a fellow made this promise not in jest

“We know what we’re doing no reason for concern.

Take this harmless stuff from us and great things you can earn.”

As you and I know, when they walked away

From that day forward there’s

Been some hell to pay.


The fiefdom’s king was sought and fought,

But the peasant’s vote was all for naught. 

Their words not heard ring true today. 

Do we still have yet more hell to pay?

“WIR not amused” the peasants stand tall to say

“Please, not again, don’t just walk away.”

Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes

10734 Sharp Street, East Concord, NY 14055, 716-941-3168,

The Coalition Crier is the voice of the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes, a group of volunteer citizens funded entirely by its members and friends.  Carol Mongerson, editor.

The Steering Committee

Greg and Beth Bock, 942-6674          

Beth Buckley, 942-6631

Ron Cook, 287-3142

Betty Cooke, 592-7053

Lee Dibble, 593-0842                           

Kathleen Duwe,   592-9278

Bob Engel, 942-3968           592-7700

Lloyd Gerwitz, 942-3894                     

Joanne Hameister, 655-0849

Roberta Hegeman, 938-6543                            

Gary and Sharon Mathe, 699-2557

Tim and Liz Mayerat, 592-2020                         

Kathy McGoldrick, 942-3855

Nora and John J.Mihalik, 592-4865                   

Carol Mongerson, 941-3168              

Jeremy Olmsted, 592-7406

Emily Oprea, 496-7561

Jim Pickering, 492-3612       

Jim Rauch, 834-7677            

Rob Spiesz, 839-0450                          

Betty Stephan, 942-3452

Raymond Vaughan,  648-5861                           

Emil and Mildred Zimmerman, 942-390