Semator Gillibrand & Congressman Higgins Urge U.S. Dept. Of Energy To Conduct New Environmental Impact Statement Prior To Transport Of Radioactive Liquid Material Via The Peace Bridge Through Western New York
The Old Environmental Impact Statement Only Should Apply to Solid Radioactive Material Gillibrand & Higgins Calling on Interdepartmental Coordination Between Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Housing & Urban Development and Others to Evaluate Risk Factors of Transportation of Radioactive Liquid Material in Densely Populated Areas, in Different Types of Weather
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Congressman Brian Higgins, a member of the Committees on Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security, today wrote to the U.S. Department of Energy urging the agency to conduct a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on their plan to transport radioactive liquid material from a site in Ontario, Canada to South Carolina via the Peace Bridge through many municipalities in New York. Gillibrand and Higgins specified a new EIS is necessary because the previously approved plan evaluated only solid, not liquid, radioactive material.
In a document publicly released on September 27, 2016 the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission indicates plans for the first shipment to take place on December 1, 2016 with the last shipment expected January 31, 2018. A report released in November of 2015 confirms plans for up to 150 shipments over that time period.
“We have no greater responsibility than protecting public safety. The transportation of a liquid substance versus a solid substance is an entirely different form of matter, which causes a significant change in the risks that come with transporting such a substance and could have environmental and safety impacts that were not previously evaluated,” said Gillibrand and Higgins in their joint letter to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Heightened risks often accompany the transportation of liquid rather than solid nuclear waste, and it is crucial to assess the potential impact to the health and safety of areas in the proposed route. Each of these requests will help to safeguard our environment and communities that are placed in potential jeopardy when nuclear waste is transported through their region.”
The full text of their joint letter to the U.S. Department of Energy is included below:
The Honorable Ernest Moniz
Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20585
Dear Secretary Moniz,
We are writing to express our concern over the decision to transport radioactive nuclear material in the form of liquid uranium from Ontario, Canada, through New York to its final destination at Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River site in South Carolina. The current route was approved using an old Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that relied on studies that evaluated the risks of transporting a solid material. The current shipments would be transported in liquid form, which brings a different set of risks than solid material and could place our communities at greater risk. Therefore, we request that DOE complete a new EIS in order to ensure that the transportation of thousands of gallons of radioactive liquid material, traveling in over one hundred separate shipments, is conducted in the safest way possible, and that the appropriate Federal Agencies have ensured the security of the route and the cargo.
The federal government has no greater responsibility than protecting public safety. The transportation of a liquid substance versus a solid substance is an entirely different form of matter, which causes a significant change in the risks that come with transporting such a substance and could have environmental and safety impacts that were not previously evaluated. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a new EIS must be completed by the appropriate federal agencies to review all of the risks of shipping radioactive liquid material. Heightened risks often accompany the transportation of liquid rather than solid nuclear material, requiring an EIS to assess the potential impact to the health and safety of areas in the proposed route.
Furthermore, we request that DOE work with the appropriate federal agencies, such as the Department of Transportation for the safety of roads, the Department of Housing and Urban Development to gauge vulnerable and at risk neighborhoods. As well as the U.S. Census Bureau to look at population density, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to look at weather patterns when the decision is being made on approving each route and shipment. Each of these requests will help to safeguard our environment and communities that are placed in potential jeopardy when nuclear waste is transported through their region.
We look forward to working with DOE on this request. Thank you for your time and attention to this critical matter.
United States Senator
Member of Congress
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