Crisis at West Valley 3 : Working Toward a Solution


Crisis at West Valley 3 : Working Toward a Solution


1. WIVB-TV reporter Bob Petrick’s interview with Rep. Stan Lundine of Jamestown. The lawmaker says three important committees in the House of Representatives have approved some sort of West Valley project. 

Now one bill has to be crafted that will be passed by the House and then the Senate.
(Runs: 2:01)

2. Shots of artwork and tee shirts representing the cause of environmentalists who are opposed to reopening West Valley for more nuclear waste. One graphic by those who are against nuclear power and weapons states, “JOIN US…FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN." A tee shirt worn by an environmental activist reads, “DON’T DUMP ON US” “MAKE THE POLLUTERS PAY.” Another tee shirt put out by the Sierra Club Radioactive Waste Campaign reads, “YOU CAN’T RUN FROM RADIOACTIVE WASTES!”

The visuals are followed by reporter Sandy White’s interview with Judith McDonnell, a volunteer who works in the Sierra Club’s Radioactive Waste Campaign. She says thirty people are going to Washington D.C. to lobby against the McCormick bill, which calls for the siting of four high level nuclear waste repositories by the end of 1984. West Valley and the Finger Lakes region are under consideration. The bill calls for funding to come from the federal government and not the nuclear industry. 

In fighting against the bill, McDonnell says there are no provisions for local community input on where the repositories are placed. She claims it is a federal “preemption of state’s rights.” She adds the West Valley site has a history of leakage and sits on “an earthquake fault…” She says the site should “be cleaned up and closed and that nothing else should be dumped there at all.” McDonnell says two weeks earlier, nineteen people went to the nation’s capital and lobbied more than seventy congressmen. The new lobbying effort seeks to reach at least one hundred twenty congressional offices. She says, “We feel that the government should take more time, there should be more study put into the siting of a high level repository, and we also feel that the state should have something to say about where this is going to be put and how it’s going to be done.”
(video then shows volunteers leaving for Washington)
(Runs: 2:08)

3. Reporter Marie Rice’s story on a radioactive spill at West Valley. Rain water had to be pumped out from a radioactive waste trench. A coupling that connected a plastic hose carrying the water from the trench to a nearby lagoon broke. About a thousand gallons of the liquid spilled onto the clay soil. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials termed it a minor accident. 

John Spagnole, the Regional Director of the DEC says the quantity was small and the contaminated concentrations were “miniscule.” He calls it “lightly dirty water or dusty water…”

Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, a nuclear physicist and staff scientist to the Radioactive Waste Campaign says “a large amount of radioactive material” has entered the Cattaraugus Creek watershed since 1975. He says the most recent spill is “not one isolated event…” 

The Sierra Club wants to know what has previously made its way into Edman Brook, Buttermilk Creek and Cattaraugus Creek, whose water eventually flows into Lake Erie. Water samples have been sent to Albany for analysis. 
(Runs: 1:52)

4. Rich Newberg’s story on the price we pay for advanced nuclear medical technology. While nuclear medicine provides the means to help fight cancerous tumors and scan the innermost parts of the brain and other organs, the radioactive waste it generates requires special storage sites that most states don’t want to host. 

New York State Energy Commissioner James Larocca announces that the low level burial ground at West Valley “has had too many problems and is too closely identified with the rest of the facility to really be a viable option for us at this time.” 
(Runs: 1:43)

5. Rich Newberg’s second story on the news conference featuring New York State Energy Commissioner James Larocca. The commissioner declares that the state will no longer consider West Valley as a site for the burial of low level nuclear waste. The decision poses a problem for Buffalo area hospitals with departments of nuclear medicine.

Larocca also addresses the massive cleanup effort soon to take shape at West Valley, where 600,000 gallons of high level radioactive waste sits in underground steel storage tanks. He says cleanup work at West Valley will meet all state and national environmental policies and will involve the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 90% of the project, which at this time is projected to be $285 million dollars, will come from the federal government. 10% of the funding will come from the state. The federal Department of Energy is slated to take possession of the property no later than October 1, 1981. The project could last as long as 17 years according to first estimates. 
The high level radioactive waste would be solidified into a glass like substance and ultimately removed from the site to a federal repository for permanent disposal. 

At his news conference, Larocca states, “The agreement precludes the use of West Valley for any other purpose but the solidification removal of these wastes during the conduct of this project.”
(Runs: 1:37)

6. Rich Newberg’s interview with Monte Blau, PhD, chair of the Department of Nuclear Medicine at the University at Buffalo (1976 - 1983). He warns that nuclear medicine and research in Buffalo might be in jeopardy if there is not a place to store its radioactive waste. He says West Valley is a “reasonable place” to put radioactive medical waste. He says nuclear medicine and research are threatened with a shut-down “within three or four months” should there be no place to deposit the radioactive waste generated by these institutions. This includes cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment. He says, “Almost every patient that comes into a hospital in the state of New York receives one radio-isotope diagnostic procedure or another.”

In response, Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, a nuclear physicist and staff scientist to the Radioactive Waste Campaign, says the nuclear burial ground at West Valley is not in good condition. He says, “It has leaked radioactive materials…” He says over 3 million gallons of water has been pumped out of the trenches that hold low level radioactive waste. He says radioactive tritium is released into Cattaraugus Creek “and into the water intakes, in effect, for the Southtowns and from Buffalo.”

Environmentalists have suggested that the radioactive waste be put in above-ground bunkers or buildings rather than in the ground.
(Runs: 2:19)

7. Rich Newberg’s interview with Dr. J. Steinbeck, Chief of Nuclear Medicine at the V.A. Hospital in Buffalo. He  demonstrates the use of a gamma camera on a cardiac patient. It is a procedure that relies on nuclear medicine. A radio tracer is injected into the patient, allowing the heart to be photographed during dilation and contraction. This allows a study of the heart while avoiding surgical procedures. Catheterization into the heart through an artery is not necessary. Nuclear medicine enables doctors to diagnose the presence of cancer at a much earlier stage. 
(Runs: 2:33)

8. Rich Newberg’s story on a proposal by federal energy officials to reduce a $35 Million dollar cash credit to New York State to $12 Million for the cleanup of 600,000 thousand gallons of nuclear waste buried at West Valley. Jamestown Congressman Stanley Lundine, along with congressman Jack Kemp and U.S. Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Alfonse D’Amato are telling U.S. Energy Secretary James Edwards that the proposal goes against an earlier commitment he made to New York. New York State Energy Commissioner James Larocca called the reduction proposal “…another double-cross in what now seems to be a series of double-crosses.” In October 1980, President Jimmy Carter had come to Western New York to sign the federal agreement with New York to clean up West Valley.
(Runs: 1:56)

9. Rich Newberg’s second story on a proposal by federal energy officials to reduce the cash credit to New York State for the cleanup of the West Valley nuclear waste storage site. Congressman Stanley Lundine calls the situation at West Valley, “A real and present danger.” He urges the Reagan administration not to charge New York State $23 Million dollars more for the cleanup project.
(Runs: 1:25)

10. Rich Newberg’s overview of high and low level nuclear waste storage issues at West Valley. Photos include receptacles containing radioactive waste that are placed in trenches on the West Valley property. Mina Hamilton, executive director of the Sierra Club’s Radioactive Waste Campaign, says eight pounds of plutonium are buried here. Another photo includes a trench where sand lenses could be providing underground migration paths for some of the radioactive waste. Hamilton says the flaky composition of the bedrock and the sand lenses pose a major threat of migration of radioactive material. There was also a filter blowout in the stacks in 1968, two years after the plant began reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods.

The Sierra Club says there has been a noted increase in small amounts of radiation around the nuclear storage site. It is questionable whether the amount of radiation poses an immediate health threat to the area. State officials say they will review any new evidence gathered by the Sierra Club.
(Runs: 1:46)

11. Bill Curtis, reporting for CBS News presents the story of the small Texas town of Tulia, which is considering accepting radioactive waste from sites such as West Valley. Tulia is located on top of one of the biggest salt beds in the country. A site in Tulia is one of several being considered by the U.S. Department of Energy. Salt beds, and the volcanic rock formations of basalt and tuff are believed to be suitable for the storage of nuclear waste. Besides Tulia, the federal government is examining sites in Louisiana, Mississippi, Utah, Nevada, and Washington State. In Tulia, those in favor of accepting radioactive waste say it would create jobs. Those against say there are very real dangers attached to putting this kind of waste in an agricultural area.
(Runs: 5:24)

12. Rich Newberg’s story on federal officials addressing local residents, about five days before the U.S. government takes possession of the portion of the West Valley site that contains the reprocessing building and the burial ground licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The state continues to possess of most of the 3,300 acre site. 

Energy Department representative James Turi assures an audience of concerned citizens that, “We want to be good neighbors and we want to work with you.”

The high level radioactive waste cleanup project will take an estimated 16 years to complete. The federal government and Westinghouse Electric Corporation will attempt to turn 600,000 gallons of radioactive liquid waste into a glass like substance which would possibly be shipped off to a federal repository still to be designated.

Citizens Committee Chairman Peter Skinner calls for “…careful planning and public involvement from start to finish.” Westinghouse representative Ray Maison promises to keep the community “fully informed of what we’re doing and what we plan to do every step of the way.”  
(Runs: 2:33)

13. Exterior video of the West Valley facility and property.
(Runs: 2:05)




Rich Newberg Reports Collection


WIVB (Television Station: Buffalo, N.Y.)
Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
(publisher of digital)


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