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Digging Deeper, The History of the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site PART 2 and Action Needed in 2021

Presenter(s): Joanne Hameister, Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes and Kathy McGoldrick
Date: June 22, 2021, 6-7:30 pm
Digging Deeper, The History of the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site PART 2 and Action Needed in 2021

To help stop invisible but long lasting, dangerous radioactivity from getting into our air, water, soil, food and environment join us for a monthly series to learn about the West Valley NY Nuclear Waste Site. One of the most radioactive buildings at that site, and at all the nuclear power and weapons sites, in the country is slated to be demolished starting in 2021. The West Valley Action Network groups are calling for an enclosure during demolition and offsite real-time, publicly-reported radiation monitoring to see if radioactivity is getting out.

The first two programs in the series will give the history of what's there, what was done, how dangerous it is from experts who have tracked the site for decades. 

 June 22, 2021, 6-7:30 PM

Digging Deeper, History of West Valley Nuclear Waste Site PART 2 and Action Needed in 2021, Joanne Hameister, Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes and Kathy McGoldrick, Register for Part II here:

Join the West Valley Action Network in a 6 month series of ZOOM meetings to learn about one of the most radioactive waste sites in the country, here in Western NY.

New Yorkers own the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site which is upstream and upwind of Buffalo and the rest of NY, the Seneca Nation of Indians Territories and Canada.  Highly radioactive nuclear power and weapons waste was reprocessed there to extract plutonium and uranium, leaving one of the most intensely radioactive sites in the world. The US Department of Energy is tasked with “cleaning up” part of the site and they are about to demolish the above ground part of the super-radioactive reprocessing building as soon as Fall 2021. Much appreciation for the workers who have been suiting up and clearing out the building some of which was too radioactive for people and was only accessed by remote control.  Workers are removing as much radioactivity as they can before the building(s) are demolished–but radioactivity remains in the thick walls and steel-reinforced structures. How much long-lasting radioactive material will be spread during demolition to communities, farm and dairy land up the food chain to our milk, cheese, eggs, food crops, meat and fish? To our waterways, air and soil?

Is the legal level of radioactive contamination a "safe" level, especially for females, young people, older people and those with existing health conditions and exposure to other cancer-causing environmental and household pollutants?

What other radioactive waste is at the site?

The sessions will answer these questions and raise more, providing avenues for meaningful public participation.

The current concerns are summarized at

1) We need an enclosure over the building(s) during demolition (and future excavation of below-ground waste and structures) at West Valley to prevent radioactive materials from spreading to the air, land, water, people, flora, fauna and environment AND

2) We need continuous, real time, offsite, air and water monitoring and publicly accessible reporting before, during and after the demolition of one of the most radioactive buildings in the nuclear power and weapons complex.

3) We must watchdog this demolition and the many cleanup steps that must follow--to prevent huge amounts of buried nuclear materials from leaking out and to isolate the waste that is now stored above and below ground at the site.

The West Valley Action Network formed as a loose association of individuals and groups in 2009 to work for the full clean up of the West Valley Nuclear Waste site in West Valley NY, Cattaraugus County, draining north into Erie County and the Great Lakes. It is comprised of individuals and organizations in NY, the US and Canada working for the full cleanup of the West Valley nuclear waste site and includes the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes, Sierra Club, Western NY Environmental Alliance, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Indigenous Women's Initiatives, Citizens' Environmental Coalition, the Western NY Peace Center, WNYCOSH, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, NYPIRG, the Adirondack Mountain Club, religious groups, sporting  groups and many more.


Joanne Hameister, BS Mathematics, is retired from a 45 year career as a Research Analyst in various fields of pharmacy, aerospace engineering, operations, advanced designs.  She is a long time member of the League of Women Voters (LWV) and was introduced to the issues at West Valley Nuclear Facility with appointment to the LWV chair on New York State Program Committee.  She has been a member of the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes steering committee since 1982.  In 1991 was tapped by Governor Cuomo to NYS Low Level Radioactive Waste Study Group. She also served on the steering committee that formed the Western New York Land Conservancy and its Board of Directors for 10 years.  She founded the WNY Gluten-Free Diet Support in 1988, served as its chair for 20 years and a term on the Celiac Sprue national governing board.