This is some food for thought for those of you who are attending any of the upcoming Tank Closure & Waste Management EIS hearings in the coming weeks.
Hood River's hearing is Tuesday, February 9 and Portland's is Wednesday, February 10 at the Lloyd Center Red Lion Hotel, across the street from the Lloyd Center, 6 to 10 p.m. This is one of the most important hearings you can attend in the coming months or year.
I will not go into much technical detail because your heart-felt values are what matter most. You do not have to know all the technicalities. You need to know, most of all, that the decisions in this EIS will affect the lives of all of us and our progeny in this region for generations to come.
What I think we want is the protection of human health and the environment for the decades and centuries ahead of us. That means long term protection of the Columbia River, our life-blood. We do not want lethal contaminants flowing into the groundwater at Hanford and into the Columbia River, its basin, its farmland, our fishing grounds, our recreational areas.
* The cleanup to occur now, not to be delayed into the proverbial future of politics that puts these decisions off until the next congress, the next catastrophe, the next generations.
* To protect our natural resources for now and the future.
* The Department of Energy to comply fully with legal obligations from now to the final state of the site.
* The legal obligations to be more stringent.
* Tank waste stored safely in tanks, new if needed, to ready the waste for retrieval in the vitrification facility that is being built and hopefully will operate successfully over time.
* Tank waste removed from the existing 177 tanks to the greatest degree possible.
* The Waste Treatment Plant to operate as it was planned, with two high level waste melters and two low activity waste melters. We have wasted enough time and money on alternatives that are proving fatally flawed.
* High level waste stored on site in canisters until a national burial ground is decided upon.
* The tank farms ultimately closed. This means characterizing contaminated soils and "cleaning" them as deeply as possible.
* The wastes from the tanks and the piping between the tanks filled with a material that will immobilize the waste that remains and that will keep intruders out of the site.
* The waste that is disposed of on site monitored for as long as the wastes are lethal to humans and the ecosystems that we all rely on.
* Tank farm wastes in cribs and trenches to be dealt with in the "remove-treat-dispose" manner rather than by using short lived "caps" to cover the material.
* All cleanup to be fully protective of the environment, maintaining the standard of long term protection of the Columbia River, the airshed, the farmland and the health of the people in this entire region.
Many of the contaminants at Hanford will be lethal, will ebb some and peak again over the next hundreds and thousands of years. Much of the waste we are dealing with will have to stay at Hanford, with no imminent repository, especially now that Yucca Mountain is off the planning table.
Many of the alternatives of "clean up" in this EIS underestimate the amount of contamination that we are facing and will feed the ground water leading to the surrounding areas and the Columbia River for thousands of years. We need to demand aggressive cleanup and cleanup dollars now. Time is wasting. Progress has occurred, but not at the pace needed to protect the our future.
This is our decision should we chose to demand it and see it through.