04 May 2010

Portland's Mayor Adams' Comments on the Hanford EIS

Office of Mayor Sam Adams
City of Portland
Mary Beth Burandt
DOE Draft TC&WM EIS Comments
May 3, 2010

Dear Ms. Burandt,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Hanford Tank Farm Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Hanford is the world’s largest and most complex environmental cleanup project, so I appreciate the complexity of the task ahead of the USDOE in proposing actions to clean up this facility.

It has come to my attention that a number of the recommended alternatives in this draft EIS pose serious threats to regional human and environmental health. While the City of Portland is not qualified to comment on the selection of one particular alternative over another in the draft EIS, we ultimately support the alternative that is most protective over the long term of the Columbia River. Portland sits at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, the health of which are vital to the success of this city. I am troubled that the USDOE’s preferred alternatives do not reflect this perspective.

In addition to the downstream impacts of the quality of on-site mitigation and clean-up activity at Hanford, I am significantly dismayed by Section 2.3, Waste Management Alternatives of the EIS and the USDOE’s preferred Waste Management Alternative of Alternative 2, which allows the retrieval of off-site waste for storage at Hanford.

Receipt of off-site waste at Hanford, especially if it contains (as would be expected) mobile long-lived radioactive materials, such as technetium 99 or iodine 129, is projected to have significant adverse long-term impacts on the groundwater, which ultimately impacts the Columbia River. Moreover, the transfer of nuclear waste through Oregon on its way to Hanford poses an unacceptable risk to the health of Portland citizens.

Assuming no accidents, the USDOE itself estimated 816 cancer deaths to residents along the route, and to people in traffic near the trucks, from a similar proposal in 2008. That estimate is based on radiation doses for an adult male and does not account for the possibility of traffic accidents, leakages, or acts of terror along the transfer route.

The City of Portland adamantly opposes the USDOE’s selection of Alternative 2 of the Waste Management Alternatives as the preferred alternative in this EIS. Given that there are alreadymany barriers to quickly and adequately cleaning up the existing nuclear waste at Hanford, it is plainly unacceptable to consider importing additional nuclear waste, even temporarily, from outside of the Hanford site. Furthermore, the actual transportation of that waste by river, rail, or road through Portland would be an unacceptable risk to the City.

We recognize that the treatment of nuclear waste is a regional and national issue that requires the collaboration of all levels of government to develop practical and safe solutions. In objecting to the transport of nuclear waste through this region, I offer this city’s support in developing a plan ror the on-site treatment of nuclear waste to either mitigate the health risks of the waste in transport or to eliminate the need for transport altogether. Treating nuclear waste on-site is the best opportunity for our communities to avoid further health and environmental impacts from waste produced from regional, decommissioned nuclear facilities.

The City of Portland, in solidarity with the City of Spokane, Washington, urges the USDOE to follow through on the agency’s fourth strategic theme: Environmental Responsibility:
Protecting the environment by providing a responsible resolution to the environmental legacy of nuclear weapons production.

The Portland City Council opposes the transportation of massive amounts of nuclear waste through our region and supports the alternatives in the Hanford Tank Farm Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement which are most protective of the long-term health of the Columbia River.

Sam Adams, Mayor
City of Portland

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