30 November 2009

Hanford Summit in the works

A week before Thanksgiving, a Seattle-based group, Hanford Challenge, organized a meeting with a number of interested parties and stakeholder groups to discuss how to move forward in the dialogue on Hanford cleanup and plan a broadly based summit.  The morning of the meeting, the Tri-City Herald ran an article framing this preliminary meeting as Western Washington vs. Eastern Washington, a significant setback to expanding and building trust between the participants.  The issue with the article is that the Herald used Hanford Challenge's own words, taken directly from their website:

    Western Washington and Portland are "concerned about Hanford's environmental impact past, present and future," the advocacy group says on its website.
    Tri-City residents "are less concerned with environmental impacts," it said, and characterized Tri-City groups as focused on jobs and economic development. 
    "This polarization has interfered with the ability to hold a dialogue about the important issues facing the region when it comes to Hanford," the group said, describing Hanford environmental cleanup as "broken."

This language is most likely aimed at a first-time visitor to the website, an audience unfamiliar with the dialogue which already occurs with surprising consensus at the Hanford Advisory Board on the values that should drive Hanford cleanup and which the US Department of Energy is loathe to adopt and apply.  As Heart of America Northwest's Executive Director, Gerry Pollet, works in the Board and serves in the Board's leadership, we have seen the entire range of stakeholders on the Board forcefully join for a common vision.

This vision is what Heart of America has been the leading voice for: "Clean-Up First," the most basic environmental principle.  No more waste should be added to Hanford until existing wastes are brought into compliance and cleaned up.  In addition, everyone on the Board agrees that USDOE should investigate and remove the massive quantities of Plutonium and other wastes in soil and over 40 miles of unlined ditches at Hanford, and that groundwater needs to be cleaned up and restored for future use.

Ideally, the Hanford Summit will create a space for meaningful dialoge and will reinvigorate openness at Hanford.  Much discussion is needed on an investment in sustainable, clean energy at Hanford tied to the cleanup mission and vision, for the benefit of the local and regional economy.  The planning meeting had good participation from USDOE managment, the Washington Department of Ecology, the Environmental Protection Agency and a range of stakeholders.

And today, Tom Carpenter, the Executive Director of Hanford Challenge, has a guest editorial in the Tri-City Herald, arguing that everyone's interest in cleanup and protecting future generations is the basis for common ground.  

1 comment:

  1. Interestingly, the dialogue about the Hanford summit continues in the Tri-City Herald. An article on Wednesday (12/2/09) again asserts that Hanford Challenge & Tom Carpenter, its Executive Director are aiming at the wrong target.