Tuesday, March 27, 2007
GNEP - Hell No We Won't Glow!
My mother's official response to the Global Nuclear Energy Plan, or, as she likes to call it: George's Nuclear Energy Plot. Go Mom!
Mr. Timothy A. Frazier
Office of Nuclear Energy
U.S. Department of Energy
100 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20585-0119
RE: GNEP PEIS Comments
Complete text of my public
hearing testimony re:Hanford
March 13, 2007
My name is Judith Cosby; I’m from Walla Walla, Washington. I’m here tonight because I cannot believe it an impossible task to convince the United States of America that it is an unwise proposal to ship 63,000 metric tons of nuclear waste that will remain radio-
active for thousands of years across thousands of miles of American highways and rails, across the Cascades, the Blue Mountains, the Rockies, dodging drunken drivers, rockslides, snowstorms, and black ice, for the purpose of planting this high-level radio-
active waste virtually alongside one of the largest rivers of the world, and next door to the only active volcanoes in the contiguous United States.
Listen to me: Over a million gallons of radioactive wastes have already leaked out of storage tanks at the Hanford reservation. The nuclear industry and the federal government want us to believe that high-level radioactive wastes are safe for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. Right here at Hanford, we’ve been unable to contain them for even 50 years. We are told the best expertise in the nation is work at Hanford.
My request is RESULTS FIRST. I want the people of Washington state and America to require the Department of Energy to keep the last three promises they made: Clean-up, Containment, a completed Vitrification Plant—first.
I’d like to point my own government and the nuclear industry consortium toward two crucial issues—the first is accountability; the second is the human right to environmental health and safety. Accountability—who is it that is providing the technical information on site selection? safety? feasibility? Someone who has the continuation of nuclear power or defense as an economic incentive? -- Fluor? ($800 Million contract)
Bechtel? (Vitrification Plant) CH2MHill? (High Level Waste Tanks)
Battelle? AREVA? Westinghouse? The Washington Group?
ALL of the reassurances of industry and federal representatives about the relative safety of nuclear power must be weighed on the scale against Price-Anderson Act guarantees that no major corporation or power company involved in nuclear technologies is financially responsible for damages.
What do Fluor’s assets come to? Bechtel’s assets? Let all the utilities, corporations and private companies sincere about their claims as to the safety of nuclear power, the safe long-term storage of nuclear wastes, their reassurances about transcontinental transportation agree to put their money where their mouth is. Let the nuclear industries put their assets on the line (instead of our tax dollars) and insure each other! If nuclear technologies are as safe and economical as they’ve been telling us for 50 years, this should pose no problem.
Listen to me. For all the "expert" reassurances over the years, a nuclear catastrophe is always a real possibility. ALL reactors have a severe accident potential. Shall we multiply this terrible fact tenfold by shuttling radioactivity all over the country? Mothers Against Drunk Drivers think they’ve got problems now—just wait. No. Don’t wait. Just say NO.
May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted, ending 123 years of inactivity. It unleashed mudflows that disrupted ship traffic 60 miles downstream in the Columbia River. Aren’t we glad there weren’t any barges of radioactive waste on the river? (Would we have been told if there were?)
My home is 50 miles from Hanford. We raise food in Washington state that feeds America and the world. Our award-winning wines are being shipped world-wide. Thousands of acres of fertile land are irrigated with Columbia River water. Many more thousands of acres of agricultural land share the winds that blow across Hanford. . . . .
Chernobyl, April 26, 1986. Chernobyl was not a terrorist act. Nor an act of war or aggression. Chernobyl was not an unavoidable act of nature—a hurricane, tornado, volcano, or earthquake. (Though all of these in the nuclear age have an increasing likelihood of being a nuclear disaster. –Just have to be in the right place. –More places all the time, too.)
Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the radioactive plume advancing toward our own beloved Columbia River are all messages that we have as much to fear from our own nuclear stockpiles as from our enemies’. Nearly three decades ago, the United States decided (on non-proliferation grounds) to NOT process spent fuel from U.S. power reactors, but instead to directly dispose of it in a deep underground geologic repository where it would remain isolated from the environment for at least tens of thousands of years.
Billions of taxpayer dollars later, we are no closer to achieving any of those goals than we were 30 years ago. "Clean Up" is years behind schedule, we can’t even keep up with containment of the wastes we have already produced. The deep geologic repository is in limbo, Yucca Mountain may never happen. -- And "remaining isolated from the environment for at least tens of thousands of years" is a lie. The best scientists in the nation haven’t even been able to accomplish this for 50 years. If the United States Department of Energy has the billions of dollars for reprocessing, why can’t they pay first for cleaning up the mess they already made?
This is not my first hearing. In the last 25 years I’ve been lied to by some of the best names in the business, General Electric, Westinghouse, Rockwell. I’ve been lied to about bids. I’ve been lied to about budgets. I’ve been lied to about Environmental Protection. I’ve been lied to about "clean up". I’ve been lied to about safety. For years.
Listen to me. These are the lies we’ve been told: Atoms for Peace. With nuclear power plants, electricity will be too cheap to meter. "Clean Up" is in process. "Clean up" is "progressing". --Listen to me: When DOE or Fluor or Tri-Dec says "permanent storage site" they really mean permanent site. No one in this field has demonstrated yet that there is any such thing as permanent storage. Not a single country in the world.
Wake me from this word-play nightmare! "Clean up" means ongoing pollution; "long terms safe storage" means extremely short term highly hazardous waste dumping. The nuclear industry, in cahoots with our federal government, say nuclear power is clean, safe and affordable—when it’s really polluting, toxic, and exorbitantly expensive! When they discuss "secure interim storage", "secure" is another lie and that "interim" is a hell of a long time. Hundred of years, at the very least.
Nuclear fuel "recycling" sounds harmless, benign, when the truth is-- high level nuclear waste reprocessing from spent fuel is dirty, dangerous and deadly, with hundreds of years worth of economic expenses and thousands of years worth of environmental costs. High level nuclear waste transportation, even just continent-wide, is a Homeland Security nightmare. And this is a Global Nuclear Energy Proposal, folks.
Wake up. "Incident-free trucking" by their OWN guess-timates and testimony, really means fatal cancers to adults, and even more to children, along the routes. "Nuclear waste reduction" means global nuclear waste proliferation and world-wide transportation of high level nuclear wastes.
We already gave you our citizen input. We said no more nuclear waste will be imported until clean up is accomplished. 70% of us in the state of Washington already said no to this dangerous idea three years ago. (I-297, 2004) You, the United States Department of Energy, you are fighting us in court even as we speak! Read my lips: No new wastes.
Now you ask us to trust you, to trust these corporations, industry lobbyists, and the local nuclear booster club—while they are absolved from any real liability, remember—to trust you to be the caretakers of some of Mother Earth’s most toxic poisons, right here in our homeland, for not only the next seven generations but for the next few thousand years?
Before you use any more of my taxpayer dollars on this madness, admit that you cannot keep up with the time-schedule or the run-away costs of "treating", "cleaning", temporary storage", more permanent—but still temporary—storage of the deadly wastes we already have right here at Hanford.
A good first step toward regaining citizen and tribal trust would be for the DOE to drop their lawsuit against the state of Washington mandate to clean up the highly radioactive mess they’ve already made. Prove that you are worthy of further public trust by showing us that you can clean up/contain the waste that’s already here. Show us that vitrification works first, before selling us the song and dance of reprocessing.
The United States Department of Energy and these corporations must complete the projects they’ve already started first. Do not reopen or start up the FFTF until clean up/containment is successfully demonstrated. Fund no new proposal, including GNEP, until the vitrification plant is completed. Contain the toxic radioactive poisons that are corroding old tanks here at Hanford. Decontaminate our soil. Clean up and restore our beloved Columbia River. Before creating any more waste or importing these deadly substances from anywhere else, much less world-wide!
Along with your Environmental Impact Statement I want to read a detailed report from the Office of Homeland Security on GNEP. We’re taking knitting needles away from little old ladies at airports and confiscating Swiss Army Knives from Boy Scouts on busses, at the same time that we’re proposing to truck and ship high level radioactive wastes all over kingdom come ? Wake up! Snap out of it!
I implore you to hold more public hearings in the Pacific Northwest: Seattle, Olympia, Spokane, Portland, Salem, Eugene. Also, I beg Governor Christine Gregoire to not abandon the 2004 mandate from the overwhelming majority of Washington State voters to clean up existing high level radioactive toxins before adding any more from anywhere. Washington is already bearing far more than its "fair share" of the national nuclear waste problem, as it is. Enough. Call a moratorium until we get some results.
Surely Washington state does not have to fight this battle alone. Look at a map of the United States. At the eastern side of North Dakota, draw an imaginary line south. Follow state lines to the Gulf of Mexico. On the west side of that line lies far more than half of the territory of the United States. Home. Also home to 15 operating nuclear reactors.
East of my imaginary line are 88 operating reactors. Almost six times as many reactors as we have in the western half of our country. Eleven of our western states are nuclear free. One of the politicians at the last hearing I attended said, "Well, they’ve got to put it somewhere." This is true. I’d like suggest moving Mohammed to the mountain. Especially when both are radioactive.
The state legislatures and state representatives of at least the western 17 states should be included in these discussions, because of the possible environmental impacts of interstate/transcontinental transportation of huge amounts of extremely hazardous waste.
I request, as part of the EIS for GNEP, statistics on routes, numbers of shipments, frequency, mileage, and total civilian populations along all proposed transportation routes-- land and sea. An alliance of western governors at a National Governors Conference would be an existing forum for objecting to this dangerous proposal.. Surely there exist other forums. Surely we can create still others.
DOE has an abysmal record as far as clean up/containment of the wastes we already have at Hanford. Broken promises litter this landscape. Because of a history of delays, cost overruns, and blatant misrepresentation, I request external independent regulation. Perhaps the Union of Concerned Scientists, Heart of America Northwest, Greenpeace, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Natural Resources Defense Council and the sovereign nations of American Indian Tribes.
We have the legal right to a hearing, but the Bush Administration and you, the United States Department of Energy, refuse to allow us to read the secret proposal on which you are pretending to offer us a chance to comment! Thus, this "public hearing" is a farce and a travesty. We insist that you disclose the Tri-Dec/Hanford contractors’ proposal and then hold public hearings.
Governor Christine Gregoire
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Maria Cantwell
Representative Bill Grant
Representative Maureen Walsh
Jay Manning, WA State Department of Ecology
Grandmothers’ Roundtable, Walla Walla
Heart of America Northwest
Union of Concerned Scientists
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla