31 March 2010

Seattle Times Cover Story on Hanford

On Monday, March 29th, the Seattle Times cover story featured Hanford:

We encourage you to read the above article, and we were excited to see Hanford on the front page of the Times...it's been a while!

Our Field Organizer, Lisa Van Dyk, wrote a letter to the editor in response to the article that the Times chose not to publish in print or on the website.  So, we're choosing to self-publish it here:

Editor, The Times:

Thank you for printing the front page story on Hanford & Yucca Mountain.  However, the plans for and status of clean up at Hanford is a much more relevant issue for Washingtonians than the status of Yucca Mountain, as only a portion of Hanford’s High-Level Nuclear Waste would have been sent there for disposal.

The article expresses concern about Hanford receiving offsite radioactive waste as a result of Yucca Mountain’s closure, but fails to inform Washingtonians about the Department of Energy’s (DOE) current proposal that is out for public comment through May 3rd.  In the Hanford draft Tank Closure & Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement, the DOE outlines its plans to import 3 million cubic feet of radioactive & mixed radioactive/hazardous waste to Hanford, regardless of the status of Yucca Mountain.

Adding any more waste to the most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere without first bringing the existing wastes into compliance with the law is unreasonable, and will greatly impact the environment and public health.  The public can comment on this plan through email (TC&WMEIS@saic.com) or U.S. Mail (TC & WM EIS, P.O. Box 1178, Richland, WA 99352).

Lisa Van Dyk, Seattle

What do you think of the Seattle Times article & this letter to the editor?  What would you have said differently?

25 March 2010

Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future meets for the first time

Today and tomorrow, in Washington, DC, President Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future is meeting for the first time. This Commission is expected to make recommendations within 18 months on what to do with the United States' High-Level radioactive waste. This includes Spent Nuclear Fuel from commercial power reactors, as well as some of the defense waste currently stored at sites like Hanford. In fact, Hanford bears the bulk of the nation's liquid High-Level Nuclear Waste in aging and leaking underground storage tanks. Those tanks have already leaked over a million gallons into the soil, to contaminated the groundwater and the Columbia River. So, you can see why Hanford stakeholders are invested in the outcomes of the Blue Ribbon Commission.

The US has a long history of nuclear waste policy, which Don Hancock of the Southwest Research and Information Center, says has "effectively failed." The Blue Ribbon Commission, according to Hancock, presents an opportunity to "chart a path for how to start over to develop a scientifically sound, publicly acceptable program."

You can watch the Commisson's proceedings via streaming webcast if you're so inclined. If that's too much, take a minute to read up on what experts have to say:

23 March 2010

Yucca Unfit Site

This op/ed appeared in the Tri-City Herald on March 23, 2010:

"While those of us in Nevada certainly sympathize with people in the Tri-Cities and in other areas (like South Carolina) over concerns about radioactive waste continuing to be stored at federal facilities in your neighborhoods, your March 14 editorial, "Joining forces against Yucca Mountain decision," is just plain wrong in asserting that there is no technical justification for U.S. Department of Energy's decision to terminate the Yucca Mountain repository project.

Yucca Mountain is a terrible site for a high-level nuclear waste disposal facility. The technical and scientific problems are legion, ranging from a highly corrosive subsurface environment, rapid groundwater flows through the subsurface, a highly fractured and seivelike host rock, evidence of geologic recent volacnic activity, its location in a major eqrthquake area, and many other problems. Yucca was selected in 1987 for purely politial reasons in spite of know technical deficiencies.

Moving radioactive waste from less-than-ideal storage locations in other states to a pattently unsafe repository at Yucca Mountain does not solve the problem. It compounds it. The fact that DOE has now (although 20 years late) acknowledged that the Yucca site is unfit and is moving, through the creation of the Blue Ribbon Commission, to find real solutions is something that should be encouraged and supported."

Joseph C. Strolin, Planning Adviser, Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, Office of the Governor

17 March 2010


On Friday, March 19th (the original end date of the public comment period on the Tank Closure & Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement) the Department of Energy is going to announce in the Federal Register that it is extending the comment period 45 days, until May 3, 2010!

This has incited much speculation around the Heart of America Northwest offices as to why USDOE is extending the comment period.  Perhaps, just maybe, USDOE is changing its preferred alternative to make Hanford a national radioactive waste dump!  Obviously, this is just speculation, but stay tuned & keep those comments coming!

Related posts:

16 March 2010

Why you should comment & what you could say:

The public comment period on the Hanford Tank Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement is extended until May 3, 2010.

If you haven't spoken up yet, you still have time!

What is this document?
This Environmental Impact Statement (weighing in at a mere 6,000 pages!) outlines many crucial aspects for the future of cleanup at Hanford, the most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere. However, the document outlines the Department of Energy's plans to begin transporting offsite radioactive waste to Hanford - making Hanford a national radioactive waste dump - while also abandoning contamination in the soil.

Why should I comment?
You should comment because you are a resident of the Pacific Northwest; you care about the Columbia River; you think it is wrong to leave nuclear waste for the next generations to deal with...the list goes on and on. The public pressure that has gained momentum over this document is reaching the top officials at the U.S. Department of Energy. The more comments that are united in opposing using Hanford as a national radioactive waste dump & advocating for complete cleanup of the High-Level Nuclear Waste tanks, the stronger the message!

What could I say?
Phrase your comments however you'd like, as long as your main message is clear. We're submitting comments that:
  • Oppose using Hanford as a national radioactive waste dump;
  • Advocate for complete cleanup (clean closure) of the High-Level Nuclear Waste Tanks;
  • Urge the Department of Energy to cleanup the contamination from High-Level Nuclear Waste tank leaks and deliberate discharges.
For more in depth analysis of the Environmental Impact Statement, see Heart of America Northwest's Citizens' Guide and/or webinar slides.

How do I submit my comment?
Email your comments right now! Send them along to TC&WMEIS@saic.com.

09 March 2010

Heart of America Northwest's doing a webinar!

Heart of America Northwest is pleased to announce a free webinar to help you formulate & submit comments on the Hanford draft Tank Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement!  This highly complex, 6,000 page document contains the U.S. Department of Energy's plans to use Hanford as a national radioactive waste dump & to abandon existing contamination at Hanford. 

You are invited! 
Monday, March 15th, 7:30pm PST
Dial toll-free: 1.877.216.1555
enter passcode: 1040811

Slides are now available for download at www.hoanw.org!

Last night concluded the series of 8 public hearings around the region on this Environmental Impact Statement - if you were unable to attend a hearing, or if you simply want to write really awesome comments, call into the webinar on the 15th!

06 March 2010

Hanford Follies - Graphic Recording

The Hanford Follies workshop this morning was a smashing success! We laughed & got serious as we talked about Hanford and the Environmental Impact Statement, and we are fired up and ready to go for the Seattle public hearing on Monday! The image above is the workshop - graphically recorded - by Anne Jess. Thanks to everyone who came out!

And, don't forget, the Seattle public hearing is on Monday night (March 8th)
Seattle Center - Northwest Rooms
6pm: pre-hearing workshop & open house
7pm: hearing & public comment

We'll have Anne's graphic recording work at the hearing, too! Join us to stand up for a safe & clean Pacific Northwest and oppose Hanford becoming a national radioactive waste dump.

Help us spread the word - email your friends, call 5 people, promote the hearing on facebook...whatever works for you!