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Climate, Clean-up and Accountability at the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site in 2021

Climate, Clean-up and Accountability at the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site in 2021

Presenter(s): Barbara Warren, RN, MS, Executive Director, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition
Date: October 26, 2021, 6-7:30 pm

The workshop, the sixth and final one in the series, Climate, Clean-up and Accountability at the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site in 2021 will be held virtually, is free and is open to the public.  Federal and NYS major environmental laws were passed years after the West Valley Nuclear site was chosen and built. So, nothing at the site meets current environmental laws or standards. Now climate change threatens to exacerbate the immediate danger of contamination. Barbara Warren, RN, MS, and Executive Director, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, will review findings of reports on the site. She will detail the plans for the North and South Plateaus, waste tanks, and disposal areas.

Register for the 10/26  session here:

This workshop features Barbara Warren, RN, MS, Executive Director, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition .

Where are we? What work still must be done? Could climate impacts release radioactive wastes?

What contamination is on site? The Presentation will review the Entire Site and the various sources of contamination.

What was supposed to be completed in Phase 1? When will it be completed? 

We will review the Plans presented in 2010 for Phase I & 2 and the progress and difficulties since then.

Climate Change is having more profound impacts than we expected in 2010 and how the site might be impacted. 

The planned Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) being prepared by the US Dept of Energy and the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority for 2022 will review Phase 2 Final Plans for remediation and cleanup of the entire site. A key problem is that a significant amount of Phase I work has not been completed, potentially impacting final plans.

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. 

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.

Barbara Warren RN, MS in Environmental Health Science. Beyond her nursing employment in hospitals, she led training programs for the NJ Dept of Health, the Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports) and more. She prepared a report on NYC Potential for Toxic Chemical Accidents which resulted in a new NYC law with requirements geared to reducing the quantities of dangerous chemicals at facilities and having proper storage.

She worked to defeat Garbage Incineration in NYC, promoted increased recycling of solid waste over many years with the Citywide Recycling Advisory Board and was involved in closing the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, the largest in the world at the time.

Since 2008, she has been the Executive Director at Citizens’ Environmental Coalition on the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site. She has had continued involvement to ensure adequate cleanup and public health protections at West Valley including releasing the Synapse Report, The Real Costs of Cleaning Up Nuclear Waste: A Full Cost Accounting of Cleanup Options for the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site and critiquing the 2010 West Valley Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the Dept. of Energy.

Previously Anne Rabe was CEC’s Executive Director and worked on West Valley. B. Warren’s Background: Hazardous & radioactive chemicals, air pollution, emergency planning, environmental justice.