Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

GILLIBRAND, HIGGINS URGE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY TO SUSPEND TRANSPORT OF RADIOACTIVE LIQUID IN NEW YORK STATE UNTIL THOROUGH ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT IS CONDUCTED

May 18, 2017
Press Release

6,000 Gallons of Radioactive Liquid Set to Cross Peace Bridge & Highways Throughout New York State Over the Next Four Years

Gillibrand & Higgins: Without a Full and Thorough EIS, It Is Impossible to Evaluate the Consequences of an Accident or to Properly Identify Safer Alternatives

 

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Congressman Brian Higgins today wrote to the U.S. Department of Energy calling on Secretary Rick Perry 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.

 

“We are concerned that there was not a full Environmental Impact Statement to examine the potential risks associated with shipping liquid uranium prior to the decision to allow these shipments to proceed,” Gillibrand and Higgins wrote in their joint letter to DOE Secretary. “Therefore we request that DOE overturn the previous administration’s approval of the project and suspend shipments of the nuclear material until a new EIS is conducted with significant input from the relevant federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Without a full and thorough EIS, it is impossible to evaluate the consequences of an accident or to properly identify safer alternatives.”

 

A recent report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent organization within the U.S. government responsible for reporting and making recommendations relative to public health and safety issues at Department of Energy nuclear facilities, confirms that a shipment from Ontario was received at the Savannah River Site, but does not provide details about the route. The same report notes a “hotspot” was detected when a separate shipment of highly enriched uranium was off-loaded at the Savanah River Site, raising additional alarm about safety concerns.   

 

The full text of Gillibrand and Higgins’ joint letter to the U.S. Department of Energy included here and below:

 

The Honorable Rick Perry

Secretary

Department of Energy

1000 Independence Ave, SW

Washington, DC 20585

 

Dear Secretary Perry,

 

We are writing to express our concern over the transportation of liquid uranium from Ontario, Canada, through New York to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River site in South Carolina. We are concerned that there was not a full Environmental Impact Statement to examine the potential risks associated with shipping liquid uranium prior to the decision to allow these shipments to proceed. The unprecedented attempt of moving 6,000 gallons of a radiotoxic solution across over 1,000 miles requires thorough scrutiny, therefore we request that DOE overturn the previous administration’s approval of the project and suspend shipments of the nuclear material until a new EIS is conducted with significant input from the relevant federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

 

The repatriation of our nuclear material is an important component of American national security, but without a proper Environmental Impact Statement that includes input from all relevant government agencies, the effort to protect public safety is counterproductive. Highly radioactive material has never before been transported over public roads in liquid form. The DOE is relying on reports that use old data and cites evidence from past transportation of solid waste material. The solution contains isotopes such as cesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium-239. These isotopes have the potential to cause devastating damage to humans, wildlife, and the environment if released. On this nearly 1,100-mile trip over the course of four years, weather and road conditions will need careful consideration to prevent accidents and to address potential terrorist threats. Without a full and thorough EIS, it is impossible to evaluate the consequences of an accident or to properly identify safer alternatives.

 

We look forward to working with DOE on this request. Thank you for your time and attention to this critical matter.

Sincerely,

 

 

Kirsten Gillibrand                                                                  

United States Senator

 

Brian Higgins

Member of Congress