URGENT ACTION: Stop LIQUID high level radioactive waste transport from Canada through New York.

Dear Governor Cuomo,

Dozens of unnecessary shipments of LIQUID high level radioactive waste are slated to move through New York State starting as soon as this summer. We are asking you, as the highest ranking public official in NY, to prevent these needless, unprecedented, inadequately evaluated risks to the population and environment of our state. This is an urgent matter, that needs your immediate attention. Shipments could begin as early as this summer, transporting approximately 6000 gallons of liquid highly enriched uranium waste from Chalk River, Ontario, Canada to the US Department of Energy Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

The United States, under the guise of national security efforts, is planning to take back the waste from radioactive material it originally provided to Canada, where it was made more radioactive and produced this liquid waste. The waste was generated up until 2003 and has been stored in a tank on-site. Similar waste generated since 2003 has been solidified and stored on site and this could be done with the remaining liquid waste.

Several points are critical to understanding of this situation:

· The shipment of this liquid waste is purportedly to fulfill non-proliferation objectives, by repatriating US-origin weapons grade uranium (HEU = highly enriched uranium). But the HEU can be “down- blended” on-site so that it is no longer weapons-usable material, whereupon it will no longer pose a proliferation risk and will not require repatriation.

· There are other alternative processes for treating/neutralizing/solidifying this waste in place, in Canada. In fact solidification via cementation has already been done for a liquid waste stream at Chalk River and it has been stored on-site.

· The shipment of liquefied high level radioactive waste is unprecedented in this country. Casks, shipping methods and regulations have not been developed to address this situation. Nor have the risks been adequately analyzed. The exact route has not yet been determined or made public.

· The high level waste contains highly enriched uranium and highly radioactive fission products such as cesium-137, plutonium, strontium-90 and long-lasting ones such as iodine-129.

· The intense radioactivity of the fission products generates heat. In addition, the potential for weapons grade uranium to lead to an uncontrolled accidental chain reaction (called a "criticality" accident) should be examined.

· A transportation accident involving a spill would pose significant and long lasting problems for clean-up.

We are asking you, as the highest ranking public official in NY to intervene with DOE to prevent these shipments. At the very least, a full Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) must be done of this plan and the potential implications for New York communities, agencies and emergency responders who would be called upon to handle any accident. Full compliance with NEPA and public participation are needed rather than the inadequate review done by DOE.

We are asking that you utilize the expertise of multiple state agencies to evaluate this extraordinary situation and its potential for adverse impacts, including the economic costs. In the absence of adequate federal review, the state should utilize our state environmental quality review process, SEQRA. Finally, we are asking that you use your role as official spokesperson to speak out on this ill-considered plan and halt it in its tracks, using whatever means available to you, as Governor of the great State of New York.

Multiple organizations in New York ADD NUMBER are very concerned about this matter and look forward to hearing your response. We are also enclosing a list of New York and US based organizations currently signed onto the resolution. There are 66 signatory organizations currently signed on including many from Canada. (Number will be updated ) We have attached more detailed information for your consideration.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Barbara Warren
Executive Director
Citizens' Environmental Coalition