04/03/09 06:29 AM

Full West Valley excavation urged

By Harold McNeil

Several Western New York residents Wednesday called for a full excavation and cleanup at the West Valley nuclear waste facility, which is not the preferred method of state and federal energy officials.

Most speakers at a public hearing in Erie Community College’s City Campus opposed plans by the U. S. Department of Energy to contain most of the waste on-site, while removing a small amount and defer making a decision on removing the rest for 30 years.

“We don’t want a cosmetic effort that would take down buildings and plant grass, hiding what lurks beneath the beautiful, rolling countryside. If you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig,” said Lee Lambert of the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Waste.

Representatives from the Department of Energy and the State Energy Research and Development Authority presented highlights of a draft environmental impact statement aimed at showing why removing the waste in phases would be preferred.

The preferred alternative would allow up to 30 years for collecting and analyzing technical data pertinent to sitewide removal.

But Vincent Agnello of Youngstown, past president of Residents for Responsible Government, a community-based group fighting to clean the environment in Lewiston and Youngstown, insisted that would ignore the government’s responsibility to West Valley.

“Your plan of action and the environmental impact statement [are] faulty in that it fails to address honestly, accurately and fully the two major issues regarding West Valley. First, your plan must protect the residents of the area from actual and potential harm,” said Agnello.

“Secondly, and as important, your plan must remove any threat of contamination to the fresh drinking water of the Great Lakes. Complete removal is the only viable solution that addresses both issues,” he added.

State Sen. Antoine M. Thompson, D-Buffalo, through his deputy chief of staff, William Nowak, also advocated site-wide removal of waste from the facility.

“As chair of the New York Senate Environmental Conservation Committee I would like to state in no uncertain terms that I support the site-wide removal option,” Thompson said in a statement.


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