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Archive for February, 2017

MEETING NOTICE

Organization: Waste Control Specialists (WCS), LLC
Date and Time: Wednesday, March 1, 2017 9:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.
Location: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

Two White Flint North, Room T-2 B3
11545 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852

Purpose: For NRC to discuss technical and procedural aspects of the WCS license application for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility as well as NRC expectations for future submittals.

Participants: NRC/NMSS/SFM                             WCS
Mike Layton                                      Michael Ford,
Anthony Hsia,                                    Renee Murdock, et.al.
John McKirgan, et.al.

Meeting Category: This is a Category 1 Meeting. The public is invited to observe this meeting and will have one or more opportunities to communicate with the NRC after the business portion, but before the meeting is adjourned. The NRC’s Policy Statement, “Enhancing Public Participation on NRC Meetings,” effective May 28, 2002, applies to this meeting. The policy statement may be found on the NRC website, www.nrc.gov, and contains information regarding visitors and security. Members of the public who wish to attend are encouraged to telephone or e-mail the contact listed below to get a list of specific information to be discussed.

The NRC provides reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities where appropriate. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in the meeting, or need the meeting notice or the transcript or other information from the meeting in another format (e.g., braille, large print), please notify the NRC’s meeting contact. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Contact: John-Chau Nguyen (301) 415-0262, John-Chau.Nguyen@nrc.gov

Attendance at the meeting other than those listed above should be made known by February 28, 2017, by phone or e-mail to the above contact.
Docket No. 72-1050
CAC No. L25175

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Yesterday, Tuesday, February 21st, the Bexar County Commissioners (in San Antonio) unanimously approved a resolution opposing transport of high-level radioactive waste and consolidated storage or disposal in Texas or New Mexico.  Here’s the final clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that Bexar County does not support or consent to consolidated interim storage of radioactive waste in Texas and nearby New Mexico, or the transportation of high-level radioactive waste on our railways or highways for the purpose of consolidated storage or permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste in Texas or New Mexico.

The resolution was carried by Commissioner Tommy Calvert, who explained the risks of transportation of high-level radioactive waste through San Antonio and other communities that would be on transportation routes if WCS gets a consolidated storage license.

San Antonio folks who testified were Russell Seal and Meredith McGuire with Alice Canestaro-Garcia and Loretta Van Coppenolle, ready to testify.  Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen led the testimony. Commissioner Paul Elizondo pointed out the history of opposing radioactive waste transport in San Antonio in previous years and seconded the motion to pass the resolution, which passed without further discussion.

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This was an amazing week of organizing in West Texas / New Mexico. Lots of people and organizations came together to work toward halting the radioactive waste dumping threat. Waste Control Specialists (WCS) wants to dump 40,000 tons of this deadly waste, parking lot style, and store it for 40 to 100 years in the desert, where climate extremes and fracking abound. What could go wrong?

This week there were two Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hearings on the radioactive waste storage license for Waste Control Specialists, one in Hobbs (Feb. 13th) and one in Andrews (Feb. 15th). The message came through loud and clear from local and regional folks – WE DON’T WANT IT!   The Department of Energy (DOE) tried to tell the rest of the country that Andrews wants this waste – but the people in targeted communities never got to vote. The Andrews County Commissioners took action with a resolution that hardly anyone knew about until recently, which is not informed consent.

A local activist who lives just outside of WCS’s site and her family have been speaking up and taking action for years. She spoke to the Mayor and City Council of Eunice on Valentines’ evening, and spoke at both the Hobbs and Andrews NRC meetings – on the 13th and 15th.  Eunice is the closest city to the WCS site – only 5 miles away. The proposed Eddy Lea Energy Alliance (Holtec) consolidated storage project would be nearby as well.

Another concerned citizen has led efforts in Andrews for two years now.  He was joined by an 80 years old newly minted activist who is  full of life and fire. A young Mom from Andrews.  her family and friends have now jumped in and become involved, and others in the community are speaking out now as well. Former State Representative Lon Burnam has made numerous trips to the West Texas region to organize and connect people.

Citizens in Midland and Odessa organized two local meetings and a press conference, and then participated in both hearings. They made a huge impact too, and have raised concerns about the risk of radioactive waste trains and water contamination. A local artist gave a beautiful and empowering speech in Hobbs and brought friends in from Roswell.

A member of the Dallas League of Women Voters got the National League of Women Voters to support her strong statement of opposition to radioactive waste dumping and delivered it beautifully, to the applause, standing ovation and sign waving of an appreciative crowd.

Diane D’Arrigo from Nuclear Information and Resource Service and Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear were invaluable, helping get information out to concerned citizens, speaking powerfully and providing detailed accurate information to reporters. We’re so grateful to them for their key role and for coming all this way to help out.  Tom “Smitty” Smith and Public Citizen were also key in organizing, strategizing and getting materials and information out.

The star of the night in Andrews was young man who took the microphone and spoke boldly, with his mother supporting him with an arm around him. It was moving and powerful.

Reporters from E&E News, the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Odessa American, Andrews County News and 3 television stations came out in Andrews.

WCS had speakers at the hearings, but many were employees or people who seem likely to have had contracts or financial benefit. The usual backers, such as the Andrews Industrial Foundation, went to bat. The WCS folks outnumbered us, but we were strong in numbers, organized, vocal and clear in our message – an amazing feat in towns where this type of organizing hasn’t happened in recent history. It’s been an honor to know and work with everyone involved, and to learn so much from amazing local folks! There will be future organizing meetings going forward and everyone is invited.

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ANDREWS, TX — Could your backyard be the new home to a nuclear waste site? Andrews is waiting to be licensed as a temporary holding site for radioactive waste.

Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of the Public Citizen’s Texas office spoke to the concerns of bringing a high-level radioactive site in west Texas in a meeting Thursday, February 9th.  See the local CBS affiliate’s story.

According to Waste Control Specialist, “it’ll bring in somewhere around 40 or 50 new jobs and normally these are fairly high paying jobs,” Vice President, Tom Jones said, “right now there’s already over 100 places around the county that this stuff is already being stored.”

While one side argues bringing in a radioactive waste plant will help the economy grow a non-profit environmentalist group disagrees — citing safety over salaries.

“Putting high level radioactive waste out in west Texas is a really bad idea,” non-profit group Public Citizen director Tom “Smitty” Smith said.

Both sides are going head-to-head about a proposed nuclear disposal site 30 miles west of Andrews. It’s an idea that lifelong resident of west Texas and mother, Delilah Cantu, is concerned about, “this is my home. This is what I want to protect.”

From health concerns to even being worried about falling properly value, Cantu is working with the Public Citizen non-profit group called public citizen, whose most recent purpose is to stop the licensing of a radioactive waste plant in west Texas.

 “WCS promises this is going to be a temporary sight but that depends on congress ever being responsible enough to ever create a long term repository,” “Smitty” Smith said.

WCS the government will immediately take over the waste project but there’s no telling how many decades the plant will be in west Texas, “I think folks are scared of the unknown. This is material people have been dealing with for the last 50 or 60 years,” Jones said, but that doesn’t ease Cantu’s worries her concerns keep growing like this one, “the remapping of the aquifer in Andrews,” Cantu said.

According to WCS, Andrews is not on top of an aquifer, “we’ve had 640 borings out there. We’ve got over 400 wells dry. We can prove we are. It over a drinking source.”

Other concerns like terroristic threats were posed but WCS said that doesn’t pose a threat.

Public hearing will be next week:

  • Feb. 13 in Hobbs, NM at 7 p.m. at Lea Country Event Center.
  • Feb. 15 in Andrews at 7 p.m. at James Robert Center.

Visit NoNuclearWasteAqui.org for more information.

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The following sites have had serious radiation leaks:

  • The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) site in Kentucky listed as a Superfund site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1994.[i]
  • The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State is today America’s most contaminated nuclear site.[ii]
  • The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) had a leak after 15 years of operation that took 3 years and $500 million to clean up.[iii]
  • The Pantex Plant is the primary United States nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility.  Since 2000, $171 million in compensation and medical bills has been disbursed to more than 1,300 workers and families since the energy employees’ compensation program began.[iv]
  • Fernald uranium production facility is the site of one of the largest environmental cleanup operations undertaken in U.S. history.  It was added to the U.S. EPA’s National Priorities List of Superfund Sites most in need of cleanup in 1989.  The cleanup was completed after 28 years and cost $4.4 billion.[v]
  • Savannah River Site (SRS) produced tritium, plutonium and other special nuclear materials for national defense and the space program. Past disposal practices caused site contamination. Cleanup efforts have been underway since the 1980s.  Site cleanup completion is currently scheduled for 2065.[vi]
  • Beatty was the nation’s first federally licensed low-level radioactive waste dump. It opened in 1962 and closed in 1992.  In October of 2015, that site caught fire.  The commercial operator of the closed radioactive waste dump was troubled over the years by leaky shipments and oversight so lax that employees took contaminated tools and building materials home, according to state and federal records. [vii]
  • West Valley Demonstration Project is a nuclear waste remediation project focusing on the cleanup and containment of radioactive waste left behind after the abandonment of a commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in 1980.  Despite over 30 years of cleanup efforts and billions of dollars having been spent at the site, the property has been described as New York’s most toxic location in 2013.[viii]

 

 

Radioactive exposure can lead to birth defects, cancers or deaths.

Radioactive accidents or leaks can lead to water contamination and billions of taxpayer dollars for never-ending cleanup.

 

 

 

Dangerous radioactive waste could be coming to your community soon.  For the health and safety of your children and grandchildren, join us…

Learn more at these Town Hall meetings:

  • Wednesday, February 8th, at 7 pm, at the Outlaw Grill, 1007 Main St. Eunice, NM
  • Thursday, February 9th at 5 PM, at Martinez Bakery, 206 E. Florida Ave.. Midland, TX
  • Thursday, February 9th, at 7 pm, at the Midland Democratic Party,601 S. Main, Midland, TX
  • Saturday, February 11th, at 11:30 am at La Hacienda Cafeteria, 421 W. Broadway St., Andrews, TX

Speak out at one or both of the NRC public meetings and request a public hearing:  (Open House will be at 6 pm)

  • 7-10 p.m. MST, Feb. 13, at the Lea County Event Center, 5101 N. Lovington Highway, Hobbs, N.M.
  • 7-10 p.m. CST, Feb. 15, at the James Roberts Center, 855 TX-176, Andrews, Texas.

Find the WCS License Application at www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2016-0231.

For more information go to: www.NoNuclearWasteAqui.org

[i] https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0404794

[ii] http://strangesounds.org/2014/04/what-if-a-quake-strikes-hanford-nuclear-site-is-defenseless-against-earthquakes.html

[iii] http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2017/01/10/wipp-nuclear-waste-repository-reopens-for-business/#2e0681234b5c

[iv] http://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/texas/article49500030.html

[v] http://www.fluor.com/projects/fernald-environmental-remediation

[vi] https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0403485

[vii] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/25/radioactive-waste-dump-fire-reveals-nevada-troubled-past

[viii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Valley_Demonstration_Project

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Public Citizen Honors Tom “Smitty” Smith

 

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After more than three decades of extraordinary work running Public Citizen’s Texas office, “Smitty,” formally known as Thomas Smith, is hanging up his spurs. Smitty is a Texas institution and a national treasure, and on February 1st, we celebrated him right.

Over 200 people attended a retirement dinner for Smitty at the Barr Mansion in Austin, TX on Wednesday evening.  Friends and colleagues from around the state who had work with Smitty on issues over his career that included clean energy, ethics reform, pollution mitigation, nuclear waste disposal, etc came to pay homage to a man who had dedicated his life to fighting for a healthier and more equitable world by making government work for the people and by defending democracy from corporate greed.

Mayor Adler and Council members Leslie Pool and Ann Kitchens

Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea and Smitty

Dallas County Commissioner Dr. Theresa Daniel and Smitty

During the evening, Austin Mayor – Steve Adler, Travis County Commissioner – Brigid Shea, and Dallas County Commissioner – Dr. Theresa Daniel presented Smitty with resolutions passed by the City of Austin, Travis County Commissioners Court and Dallas County Commissioners Court all of which acknowledge Smitty’s contributions to their communities and the state of Texas.

 

 

 

Adrian Shelley (front left) and Rob Weissman (front right) at Tom “Smitty” Smith’s retirement event.

Public Citizen’s President, Robert Weissman, thanked Smitty for his service to Public Citizen for the past 31 years and introduced the new director for the Texas office, Adrian Shelley, the current Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston.

Smitty’ impending departure fromPublic Citizen will leave a big hole in advocacy for progressive issues here in Texas, but both Smitty and Robert Weissman expressed confidence that Adrian would lead the Texas office forward into a new era of progressive advocacy.  Adrian is a native Texan from the City of Houston. He has served as the Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston since 2013. He first worked with Air Alliance Houston as a legal fellow in 2010, then as a Community Outreach Coordinator in 2012. In that time, Public Citizen has worked closely with Air Alliance Houston through the Healthy Port Communities Coalition (HPCC), a coalition of nonprofits and community groups which advocates policies to improve public health and safety while encouraging economic growth.

So be assured that Adrian and the Texas staff of Public Citizen are committed to carrying on the battle for justice, for democracy, for air clean and  energy and for clean politics. We can and will protect our children and the generations to come. For this, we can still use your help.  You can make a tax deductible donation to the Texas office of Public Citizen to help us continue his vital work on climate, transportation, civil justice, consumer protection, ethics, campaign finance reform and more

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Adrian ShelleyAdrian Shelley, who has served as executive director of Air Alliance Houston, has been named the new director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, Public Citizen announced today.

Shelley replaces Tom “Smitty” Smith, who is retiring after 31 years of championing consumer rights and clean energy policies. Smith’s retirement was announced in September. He has remained at the helm while the organization searched for a new director.

Shelley has run Air Alliance Houston (AAH) since April 2013. Under Shelley’s leadership, the organization made significant progress in the fight for clean air and a healthy future in Houston. AAH is a founding member of the Healthy Port Communities Coalition, of which Public Citizen is a member.

“Smitty is a hero of mine, and I am honored to continue his work in Austin,” Shelley said. “As a native Texan, I look forward to advocating on behalf of all Texans.”

Shelley replaces Smith, widely known around the state Capitol as the man in the white hat. Smith’s work has led to reforms that have improved public health and safety, protected consumers’ pocketbooks and helped curb climate change.

“Texas and America are better places thanks to Smitty’s work,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Smitty’s breakthrough advocacy and initiatives in Texas pioneered achievements in clean energy, renewables and consumer protection that have spread across the nation. There’s no replacement for Smitty, but we’ve found a superstar of the next generation in Adrian, and are looking forward to seeing him innovate new pathways to progress.”

Added Smith, “Adrian is a star in the environmental movement. He has proven to be a strong leader who is smart, dedicated and very tactical. He’ll go far. I am very pleased he has been chosen to be my replacement.”

Shelley will remain in Houston with Air Alliance Houston while that organization finds a new executive director.

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