Legal fight underway to keep nuclear waste out of WNY

Aug 18, 2016

Radioactive liquid nuclear waste may soon be shipped across the Peace Bridge and through Western New York. As that reality looms, several organizations have joined forces to block the plan.

The plan includes shipping nearly 6,000 gallons of liquid nuclear across the Peace Bridge. Experts say people in vehicles next to the trucks would be exposed to radiation.
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News


The groups, including the Sierra Club, have filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the nuclear waste shipments. Under the U.S. Department of Energy's plan, about 150 tractor-trailer loads of highly radioactive waste would travel a thousand miles from Chalk River, Ontario through Buffalo to a DOE processing site in South Carolina.

Highly radioactive material from Chalk River, Ontario would be shipped through Buffalo in casks like this on tractor trailers.

"This weapons-grade uranium is essentially the same kind of material that was in the Hiroshima bomb," said  Dr. Gordon Edwards with the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

"That is the ostensible reason  for moving the waste back into the United States in order to so-called 'repatriate' this highly-enriched uranium."

Lynda Schneekloth with the Sierra Club Niagara Group lives less than two miles from the Peace Bridge. While some experts maintain that it's possible to ship the waste safely, Schneekloth points out that in the real world accidents do happen and terrorism is possible.

"It's really rather shocking to us that this radioactive material doesn't even have to be shipped in a liquid form for any reason whatsoever. It can be solidified or down-blended at the Chalk River," Schneekloth said.

"It would render it much safer, although not completely safe. "
   

That safer alternative, according to Schneekloth, was not even considered because the DOE and federal government did not conduct an environmental review.

Meanwhile, regulators maintain that there's an extremely low risk of any material being released during an accident.