The Buffalo News - Everybody's Column

There's nothing incidental about nuclear waste

9/25/2004

The word "incidental" implies having little consequence. Because the Department of Energy is using that term for radioactive waste, future residents may pay with their lives as a consequence. Renaming high-level liquid radioactive waste "incidental" does not change its nature, but allows the DOE to avoid compliance with the law requiring isolation of the waste from the environment for thousands of years.

The West Valley Demonstration Project, 35 miles southeast of Buffalo, demonstrated that the liquid waste could be pumped out of underground tanks and stabilized. However, the sludge and the tanks remain in the ground, still highly radioactive. Several other states are host to numerous tanks, some of them corroded and leaking.

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara adopted a resolution objecting to the use of the term "waste incidental to reprocessing" to avoid responsibility for cleanup here in Western New York and in other parts of the country. Sierra Club, Great Lakes United and the Western New York Presbytery have all passed similar resolutions.

It is time we tell our government officials we object to the assault on our environment and we want a full cleanup at West Valley and elsewhere across the country.

Leonore Lambert

East Aurora

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