Conclusions of the West Valley Full Cost Accounting Study

South Plateau at the West Valley Nuclear Site - black plastic covers the State dump (SDA)
Orange hatching shows the predicted extent of near-term cutback by landslides along Buttermilk Creek
(source: p 102 of the FCAS)
[West Valley Nuclear Site - Buttermilk Cr. landslide]

"As a practical necessity, we are compelled to use a precautionary approach at West Valley. We cannot know the economic or health costs which may occur if wastes are left interred at West Valley, but we do know if a release occurred, it would have expensive and disastrous consequences. The costs of exhuming radioactive contamination at the site will be expensive in the short-term, but the costs of maintaining buried waste at the site in an attempt to thwart future disaster will be far more expensive and far less certain. In a precautionary sense, we should excavate and move the wastes at West Valley while we still know what is in the ground, how to handle it, and have some chain of responsibility still available.

Our analysis recommends that the DOE and NYSERDA issue a new DEIS with the following criteria.

1. Reject assumptions about timeframe, institutional controls and continuity, and budget requirements in Alternatives 2 through 4 in the 2005 draft DEIS based on their inability to adequately protect health, welfare and environment as required by federal statute.

2. Assume that, until shown otherwise, the safest and most economically viable option is to fully excavate the wastes buried at West Valley.

3. Explore other options for retrievable, monitored, above-ground storage of nuclear waste at a more stable site than West Valley.

4. Revisit and publicly vet assumptions about erosion risks, institutional continuity, budgets which account for the long-term costs of maintenance at West Valley, the expected timeframe of radionuclide decay and toxicity, and the costs to the downstream public along the shores of the Great Lakes.

5. Evaluate options for mitigating radioactive waste at West Valley based not only on project cost alone, but also on project and postclosure risks over the expected lifetime of radioactive elements buried at the site.

6. The West Valley site can be remediated practically, but it will require significant budgets, interagency cooperation, and a transparent and publicly involved process."

From pp 159-160;
see the full report: The Real Costs of Cleaning Up Nuclear Waste: A Full Cost Accounting of Cleanup Options for the West Valley Nuclear Waste

Back to West Valley nuclear waste site