Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes                            


March, 2003



Public hearing April 9 and 10

              Closing the site at last.  Your comments are needed.

The choices

              How it might be done.

Potential issues

              Things you might want to think about.

Why this is important

              The train is leaving, but is it on the right  track?

The Coalition position

              West Valley is not a good place.

Back to court?

              Not again!

Crier by e-mail

              Fast and cheap.

A playlet

              Nuclear waste is funny?



The Coalition Crier is published by the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes, a volunteer citizen group dedicated to overseeing the radioactive wastes at West Valley, New York.

Carol Mongerson, Editor

10734 Sharp Street, East Concord, NY 14055








7:00 Ė 9:00 PM 

Ashford Office Complex

Route 219, West Valley, NY


Final Closure of the Nuclear Service Center

The Department of Energy is ready to decide how to close the nuclear waste site in West Valley, NY.   Your comments are needed on the scope and content of an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). You may comment in person or send in written comments by April 28 to

WVDP Decommissioning and/or Long-term Stewardship DEIS Comments                                          10282 Rock Springs Road, WV-49                                                                                                                 West Valley, NY 14171-9799

FAX  to Sonja Allen (716) 942-4199                                                                                                Telephone 800-633-5280                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               If you plan to speak at the hearing you must request time.

A draft EIS will be probably be issued in December, 2003.  At that time we will be asking you to comment and we will keep you informed about our views between now and then. You will have three months to comment on the EIS. For now all you need to do is comment on its scope and contents.

The Choices

Decommissioning :   Clean the site up and remove it to a safer place.                                                                                      
Stewardship:  Leave it and watch it for several hundreds of years.  
Five Alternatives --
1. Unrestricted site release
2. Partial site release without restrictions
3. Partial site release with restrictions 
4. Monitor and maintain under current operations
5. No action

Potential issues

Doses to  population and workers                                                                      Impacts on the environment                                                                                                              Transportation impacts                                              Accident impacts                                     
Costs of the alternatives                                                 Impacts on specific groups such as low-income, minority, and Native
Americans                                                      Irretrievable and irreversible commitment of resources                                                                    
Unavoidable impacts                                                                                                                            Long term impacts of wastes left on site                                              Earthquakes and erosion                                                 Incidental Waste reclassification  (See below)     

Why this is important

DOE has told us repeatedly that their preferred way to close the site is to mothball it.  That does not mean the use of a lot of smelly, round white balls to scare away the moths (though their favorite plan may not be much more effective than that.)

Their plan would mean leaving most of the waste on site permanently, what they are calling long-term stewardship.  Some would be buried under, or filled with, cement.  Some would be ďgroutedĒ.  Some simply reclassified to make it legal.

Under federal law, all high level reprocessing waste must be removed from the site, including the liquid waste tanks because even after vitrification of the liquid the tanks remain very radioactive.

Exhuming  the tanks would be very expensive so DOE has a simple solution:  reclassification. 

If high level reprocessing waste is illegal just call it something else.  They are calling it incidental waste instead.  (The DOE code for that is WIR, waste incidental to reprocessing.). 

Brilliant, donít you think?  ďIncidentalĒ sounds so Ö so Ö so harmless.   So incidental.

This paper solution is encouraged by the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) and will be used at other DOE sites in the country. 

The 1996 draft EIS concluded (using computer modeling) that the eventual doses from leaving the tanks in place would be too high.  Today, simply by using a different computer model, they have reduced those predications substantially.

1. The decisions made on the basis of this EIS will affect the quality of life for you and people for generations to come.

2. The decision most favored by the DOE will leave the wastes here.

3. The decision most favored by the DOE would be irreversible. If we donít stop them now it may be too late.

The Coalition Position

The Coalition believes the only responsible way to go is to clean up the West Valley site as well as possible and ship the radioactive waste to a safer place as soon as one is available.  West Valley is not suitable for storing nuclear waste for hundreds of years.  Erosion of the land will carry wastes into Lake Erie eventually and endanger public health.  Wastes, including those from the burial grounds, must be packaged and removed.   Wastes, in retrievable, monitored, above-ground storage, may have to remain at West Valley temporarily until a more suitable site is found.  

Whatever method is chosen the radioactive wastes at West Valley must not be irreversible.

Back to Court?


The Coalition may find it necessary to go to court again over this new EIS. We believe that it violates several provisions of our 1986 out-of-court settlement agreement with the DOE.  It replaces the draft 1996 EIS in ways that violate NEPA requirements as well.    It introduces new alternatives and eliminates others already agreed upon. It makes NRC part of the decision-making process as well as giving it the obligation to prescribe decommissioning criteria.

The Crier will be explaining our objections to the new EIS in greater detail in future issues. 

The Crier by e-mail

Some of you are getting this Crier by e-mail.  Please forward it to anyone you think might be interested.                                                                                                      If you have an e-mail address please send it to us and weíll keep you up to date on the West Valley nuclear waste.  You will not only save us money but youíll probably get your West Valley news a lot faster and more often.  Send it to:                                                                                      If you donít have e-mail but would like to continue getting the Crier please call or drop us a note and weíll keep you on the snail list.


A Playlet

(entertainment for dose receptors)


James.  The DOE boss.  Beset, bewildered and beleaguered

Bill.  Engineer.  Clever, clever, clever. 

Bob. Community relations spinmaster.  Expert word manipulator.  Nuke speak is his second language.  Lurks in back at meetings doing damage control.

Richard.  NRC Bureaucrat.  Avoidance master, great with numbers.  Affable and ready to please.

Tom.  State Representative.  Charming and always ready to be called upon for (quite) a few words

First Ordinary Person. Beset, bewildered, and beleaguered

Second Ordinary Person. Ditto, but even more totally out of the loop.    


Disclaimer:  Any resemblance to real people is only slightly coincidental.  Much of the dialogue is drawn from actual DOE documents however.


SCENE 1     

A public hearing in a small rural town of western New York


BOB:   Welcome to public hearing # 9,280.  We have assembled a number of experts here tonight to answer questions and listen to what you have to say.  However, please remember that we are in charge and that we know what weíre talking about.  We are the experts. We have degrees.

     Before we get started I want to go over a few housekeeping details. Feel free to help yourselves to coffee, but only during specified breaks in the meeting. Otherwise you might miss some valuable information we are sharing with you and weíre sure you donít want to do that.

     The bathrooms are down the hall. You may use them during the break.  If you canít wait please raise your hand and ask permission. Please donít use too much paper.  We at the DOE believe in the environment, and besides we are on a tight budget. 

     I hope you picked up an agenda at the door because now you must wait for the break to get one.  If you try to go before the break everyone will look at you and that would be disruptive.

     If you will consult your agenda you will see that the first speaker is James, the director of the program here. We call her James because she is just like a real man, but she talks a little nicer.  She will go over the budget with you.  James?

                       (Sycophant holds up an applause sign.)                               JAMES:  Good evening. Iíll be brief. I have heard through my special hot line to Washington that Congress has just approved our $500 million budget for FY2004.  (applause) That brings the total spent so far on this project to only $52 billion dollars of your money. (Citizens gasp and a hand goes up.) Sorry, no questions. Thatís all I know.

BOB:  Thank you James.  (to audience) I told you she was nice. 

SECOND CITIZEN. ( aside to first citizen) Did she really say $52 billion? 

FIRST CITIZEN.  I think she must have meant $ 52 thousand.

BOB. Now, if you will kindly consult your agenda again.  Those of you who canít read can just watch the screen. Weíve put everything up here in picture language.  Here, Iíll show you. Now, letís see Ö uh Ö this little clicker thing is uh ...   press 6, while holding down 3 Öuh Ö  Well, our engineer expert is going to explain acceleration to you and Iím sure he can figure it out. Please welcome Bill.  (Applause sign)

BILL:  Thank you so much Bob.  Headquarters has determined that acceleration of decontamination operations is to reduce the siteís risks and prepare WVDP for decommissioning.

     The end point of acceleration is operational readiness of the RHWF to support despositioning of the project -generated waste to further reduce site risk.  We will accelerate site decommissioning so that it is performed in parallel in FY2005.

BOB:  Excuse me, Bill, but perhaps you could explain to those unfamiliar with technical concepts how you can accelerate and reduce risk at the same time?

BILL:  Certainly.  Itís really very simple. The overall goal is to accomplish risk reduction through accelerated closure and cleanup of the E-M missions across the complex.  Now, DOE worked with WVNSCO to develop a baseline for decontamination and waste management.  Thatís all pretty obvious, of course.

     Now, this next part is very important for you to understand so pay attention.  The cost and schedule estimates associated with out-year scopes of work were confirmed, updated, and/or detailed in compliance with existing, currently promulgated regs with the most careful attention to performance objectives. (a hand goes up in the audience).  Oh Iím sorry; that is the end of my

allotted time.  You can check out the details on our web site: http// Thank you for giving me this opportunity to impress you.

BOB: Thank you so much, Bill.  Itís a shame he had to leave.  You may, of course, submit questions in writing.

FIRST CITIZEN:  Will there be another meeting soon?  Iím just a little confused.

BOB: Oh, of course.  We hold these public meetings every three months.  The agenda for the next one will include the PMP which Iím sure youíll all find very interesting.

SECOND CITIZEN: Oh sure.  UhÖ just exactly what is that?

BOB:  The Performance Management Plan. James will outline the strategic initiatives outlined in the PMP, updated, of course, to incorporate current out-year support cost estimates.  Then Bill, here will explain the path forward.

CITIZEN: Good.  I wouldnít want to miss that.