FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 14, 2007
Schumer Calls On Feds to Approve "Way Forward" for West Valley - Fights To Restore Administration Budget Cuts
New Joint Federal-State Plan Offers the Best Course to Clean Up West Valley and Finally Make the Area Safe
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the federal agencies responsible for the clean-up at the old West Valley Nuclear facility to approve the so-called way forward to clean up the toxic site once and for all. Schumer said the new plan, devised by the Department of Energy in conjunction with state and local officials, offers concrete steps to clear areas now, rather than letting the entire site languish until a full plan is devised. Schumer also said he will fight to reverse the potentially disastrous 30 percent funding cut to the West Valley Demonstration Project included in the Administration's Fiscal Year 2008 budget.
"This plan offers the best bet to clean up West Valley once and for all," Schumer said. "For far too long the Energy Department has dragged its feet and ducked its responsibility. Now we have a reasonable and achievable plan to remove this terrible blight from Western New York. I look forward to working with the Energy Department and our state, local, and community partners to help implement this important plan and will hold the feds' feet to the fire to make sure this clean up happens in a timely and efficient manner."
Schumer today announced his support for Energy Department's phased plan to clean up the West Valley Nuclear site. Under the plan, officials would continue to monitor the plume and aggressively develop accurate models of its migration so that the best course of action with regard to clean-up can be determined. Overall, the Energy Department would remove toxic buildings and earth that are able to be moved right now, and while those operations are underway, a new proposal would be devised to clean up the entire site.
Schumer said this phased approach is best way forward because it allows the DOE to make progress on some of the smaller issues without waiting to resolve the trickier problems associated with cleaning up years of accumulated toxic and radioactive waste. "Any high-schooler studying for the SAT will tell you the smart way to tackle a test is to answer the easy questions first, then circle back to tackle the more difficult ones," said Schumer.
Schumer also blasted the Administration's budget cuts to the West Valley Demonstration project saying that, with this new progress and plan, the cuts couldn't come at a worse time. The Administration's FY 2008 proposed shrinking the budget for the project by nearly 30 percent, from $75 million in FY 2007 to just $54 million for next year. The budget for the project has been repeatedly cut from $100 million just a few years ago.
Schumer today wrote to the Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Ranking Member Judd Gregg (R-NH) asking them to restore funding to the full $100 million level in the Congressional budget set to be released next month.
The West Valley Demonstration Project was established by Congress in 1980 to safely solidify high-level radioactive liquid wastes that were stored at the West Valley site. The site is the former location of the only commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing facility to ever operate in the United States and between 1966 and 1972, the reprocessed spent nuclear fuel to extract reusable uranium and plutonium and the high-level radioactive liquid waste, a by-product of the chemical dissolution process, was stored in underground tanks at the site.