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Protections Needed for WNY during the Demolition of the Most Radioactive Building , West Valley Action Network

Presenter(s): Charley Bowman, WNY Peace Center and Diane D'Arrigo, Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Date: July 27, 2021, 6-7:30 pm

This is the third workshop in a series hosted by the The West Valley Action Network. 

Register for the 7/27 session here:

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.

Charley Bowman and Diane D'Arrigo will present the case for enclosing the big reprocessing building during demolition this fall, winter or spring (timing keeps changing) and for offsite monitoring and reporting in real time both air and water, before, during and after the demolition. This will also be needed in years to come when the underground waste is excavated to prevent leaking into the creeks that run into Lake Erie, and beyond. We need real time monitoring for the kind of radioactivity that is at West Valley to confirm as best as possible that it is not getting released offsite into our communities and resources, crops, fish, milk, meat, water and environment. This is important because the radioactive materials on that site, in walls of the building to be demolished are dangerous now and will still be dangerous for hundreds, thousands--some even millions--of years in the future....So preventing the dispersion offsite is essential. Charley will review enclosures that have been done at other sites and Diane will describe monitoring options. We will discuss what the public can do accomplish these goals including calling on New York State to be assertive and do independent monitoring and review of the federal actions.


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.


View other workshops from this series:


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.