New Yorkers own the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site, which is upstream and upwind of Buffalo and the rest of NY, the Seneca Nation of Indians Territories and Canada. Highly radioactive nuclear power and weapons fuel was reprocessed there to extract plutonium and uranium, leaving one of the most intensely radioactive sites in the world.
The US Department of Energy is tasked with "cleaning it up" and they are about to demolish the above ground part of the super-radioactive reprocessing building as soon as Spring 2021. Much appreciation for the workers who have been suiting up and clearing out the building and removing as much radioactivity as they can before demolition--but radioactivity remains in the thick walls and steel-reinforced structures.
Help protect the health of New Yorkers! Please click to send the letter below to your NYS Assembly-member, NYS Senator, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul to let them know:
- We need an enclosure over the building(s) during demolition (and future excavation) at West Valley to prevent any radioactive materials from spreading to the air, land, water, people, flora, fauna and environment AND
- We need continuous, real time, offsite, air and water monitoring and publicly accessible reporting before, during and after the demolition of one of the most radioactive buildings in the nuclear power and weapons complex.
Since NY owns the site and the US DOE is performing the demolitions, our state, federal and tribal elected officials can best protect us by insisting DOE do the demolition under an enclosure and that meaningful real time monitoring and reporting of emissions to air and water offsite be carried out before during and after demolition of the above ground part of the West Valley nuclear waste site.
The radioactive waste at West Valley includes dozens, probably hundreds, of different kinds of radionuclides--some very-long- lasting like:
- plutonium-239 (dangerous now and for a quarter to half million years, especially dangerous to lungs),
- cesium-137 and strontium-90 (dangerous for 300-600 years, impacting heart, muscle and bone) and
- iodine-129 (dangerous for 160 to 320 million years, concentrating in thyroids).
Once released the radioactive materials get into air, water, food and our bodies. Because the radionuclides stay dangerous for so long, releasing them to the environment essentially is an irreversible action. To prevent the spread of the radioactivity, the West Valley Action Network is calling for an enclosure over the building(s) while it is being demolished and for real-time air and water monitoring for radionuclides offsite so we have a better chance of knowing what is being released.
New York State agencies--Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Health (DOH)--have some authority and responsibility for radioactive and hazardous materials in NYS, including offsite radioactive air emissions. New York must assert its authority to protect the residents now and into the future. The state agencies answer to NYS Governor Cuomo and our state legislators. Write to your elected officials today to demand the state do what is needed and exercise all the power they possibly can to prevent nuclear materials from being released and to monitor for those that get out.
Thanks for all you do!
The NIRS Team