For Immediate Release
September 2, 2022
Groups Call on NYS Elected Leaders to Make the West Valley Nuclear Site Clean-Up Safer
Enclose Plutonium Building during Demolition and Report Offsite Radioactive Releases in Real Time
Diane D’Arrigo NIRS firstname.lastname@example.org; 301-270-6477×3
Charley Bowman WNY Drilling Defense, email@example.com, 716-908-8227
25 Western NY, NYS, and national organizations[i] called on Governor Hochul and State Legislative Leaders in a letter to prevent the spread of radioactivity including plutonium across the state and region during the upcoming open-air demolition of the high-level nuclear waste reprocessing building at West Valley NY. It is slated to be leveled starting this fall without meaningful, timely offsite monitoring.
Other intensely radioactive structures in the nuclear weapons complex were covered to prevent release of radioactive dust in the wind. “Why not West Valley?” asked Diane D’Arrigo, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, part of the West Valley Action Network.
The Department of Energy (DOE) enclosed the SPRU (Separations Process Research Unit) plutonium building in Niskayuna, NY to prevent further releases after radioactivity was detected at the beginning of decommissioning. “Why wait for some to get out to take preventive action?” she asked. The State of Washington, with its own monitors, twice detected plutonium releases from the DOE Hanford nuclear site leading to work stoppage and corrections before proceeding. NY does not have independent offsite radiation detection equipment. “Since some radioactive elements like plutonium are dangerous now and will still be radioactive for a half million years or more, dispersal is a big deal,” she stated.
The groups called for an enclosure during demolition, offsite real-time, publicly-reported monitoring before, during and after demolition. Since this is just one step in the full cleanup process, they also want a permanent, searchable, publicly accessible, on-line library with all West Valley documents including assumptions used for cleanup decisions and estimated releases. States do have authority over some aspects of radioactive facilities and the groups are encouraging NY leaders to direct and fund NY agencies to assert that power for strong public protection (economic, land use, etc.) at the many nuclear sites in NYS, especially West Valley.
DOE removed some radioactivity from the building but more including plutonium remains and could spread locally, statewide and into neighboring states and Canada. There is no safe level and it is very long-lasting.
A hasty response from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation is triggering a follow up letter from the groups with more specifics ideally before the walls start coming down.
Charley Bowman of WNY Drilling Defense concluded that “The West Valley Reprocessing Building should be enclosed prior to demolition to prevent the release of radioactive particulate matter and we need real time publicly reported air monitoring.”enclose radioactive demolition ltr to NY gov+ldrs 7-13-2022
[i] Adirondack Mountain Club, Alliance for a Green Economy, Cattaraugus-Chautauqua for Clean Water, Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Clean Air Coalition of WNY, Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes, Community Concerned About NL Industries, Concerned Citizens of Allegany County, Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, Defend Ohi”yo’, Environmental Advocates EANY, WNY Peace Center, Green Education and Legal Fund, Highlands at Pittsford,
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Indigenous Women’s Initiative, Interfaith Climate Justice Community of WNY, League of Women Voters Buffalo/ Niagara, Nuclear Information & Resource Service, New York Public Interest Research Group NYPIRG, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter and Niagara Group, United Neighbors Concerned About GE Dewey Loeffel Dump, Western New York Environmental Alliance, Western NY Drilling Defense