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Secure nuclear waste at West Valley project

Last weekend, a huge mudslide in Snohomish County, Washington, buried a town, with at least 25 people dead and 90 still missing. In August 2009, Western New York experienced a short burst of heavy rainfall after saturating rain over a few days. This storm unleashed flash flooding along Cattaraugus Creek, deaths and extensive damage.

At West Valley, a landslide occurred that moved tons of loose soil from steep banks into Buttermilk Creek. Like in Snohomish County, the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site has loose glacial till and steep slopes that become unstable after saturating rains. A landslide similar to that in Washington could carry tons of cancer-causing highly radioactive waste to Cattaraugus Creek and Lake Erie – a source of drinking water for millions of people.

Extreme rainfall events are predicted impacts of climate change in the Northeastern United States. Environmental activists received unanimous support from the public for a permanent solution to the dangerous nuclear waste on site: dig it up and store it securely. Unfortunately, agencies and public officials have grown complacent about West Valley – too little funding, lots of delays and too little action.

State senators are currently planning to cut the $12 million allocated for West Valley cleanup. This should be fully funded and our leaders need to think about passing a law to require what is absolutely necessary – digging up and securing the hazardous nuclear waste.

Barbara Warren

Executive Director

Citizens’ Environmental Coalition

Art “Happy” Klein

Tonawanda