News, Analysis and Opinion for the Informed Boulder Resident
Saturday August 17th 2019

Support the Blue Line

Subscribe to the Blue Line

That's what she said

city council transportation energy municipalization xcel housing urban planning april fools bicycles climate action election 2011 density boulder county affordable housing open space election agriculture renewables CU local food climate change election 2013 development jefferson parkway youth pedestrian election 2015 preservation Rocky Flats election 2017 recreation BVSD immigration mountain bikes boards and commissions GMOs decarbonization urban design transit fracking plan boulder farming fires wildlife planning board colorado politics architecture downtown smart regs new era colorado land use natural gas plutonium homeless journalism transit village parking commuting ghgs radioactive waste rental taxes height limits coal historic preservation walkability energy efficiency april fools 2015 Neighborhoods zoning population growth diversity historic district flood students growth North Boulder gardens arts education election 2018 solar bus election 2010 University Hill water supply nutrition RTD bike lane electric utility library safety sprawl groundwater water quality election 2012 affairs of the heart april fools 2016 renewable energy organic flood plain planning reserve mayor zero waste blue line wetlands county commissioners hogan-pancost politics electric vehicle hazardous waste transportation master plan obama longmont ballot right-sizing street design golden Mapleton solar panels PV climate smart loan recycling comprehensive plan diagonal plaza bears colorado legislature flood mitigation campaign finance congestion conservation easement food epa boulder junction pesticide drought oil flooding inequality election 2016 road diet planning bus rapid transit commercial development daily camera climate change deniers automobile PUC children ecocycle community cycles BVCP Newlands community league of women voters wind power public health ken wilson david miller sam weaver civil rights mlk west tsa crime public spaces city attorney boulder creek al bartlett marijuana green points technology EV Orchard Grove Whittier arizona

The Department of Energy’s Environmental Racism in Colorado


By

photo courtesy Lars Leber, http://crossprocessing.us/

Conejos County Clean Water, Inc. (CCCW), San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, and Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety have filed in the federal court in Denver a complaint and petition alleging that the Department of Energy (DOE) is negligent for approving and funding the transportation, transfer, and storage of toxic, hazardous and radioactive waste materials at a site adjacent to the town of Antonito, Colorado. The county seat of Conejos County, Antonito is a small town located near the New Mexico state line on the southern edge of the vast high-elevation San Luis Valley.

The waste in question is destined over a period of at least ten years to be moved from the DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico to an Energy Solutions waste disposal facility at Clive, Utah, with a truck-to-train transfer point on the southern outskirts of Antonito. Without even notifying the people of Antonito or their local government officials in Antonito or Conejos County, in November 2009 the DOE shipped some of this waste by truck from Los Alamos to the Antonito transfer point. Residents of Antonito, Conejos County and the San Luis Valley were alarmed when they learned that toxic waste was being transferred from a truck to rail cars on a siding near Antonito adjacent to the San Antonio River, a tributary of the Rio Grande. An accident with the waste could pollute not only their scenic river but also the Rio Grande, the headwaters of which are in the mountains on the western side of the San Luis Valley.

CCCW and the other plaintiffs provide in their legal complaint a detailed account of what they have learned and what has transpired regarding this situation They point to the obvious fact that the DOE’s action violates the National Environmental Policy Act requirement of an analysis of environmental impacts, including involving the affected population in determination of the scope of the analysis. Though the plan for the waste transfer in Antonito was included in an October 2009 internal DOE document, this document was never made public.

Neither residents of Antonito and Conejos County nor their government officials were informed of what was being planned for the environment in which they live, much less were they given their legal right to comment on action that would affect them for a decade or more. DOE’s behavior looks like an egregious example of environmental racism to an economically disadvantaged minority population. The population of Conejos County is about 60% Hispanic, and the county ranks as one of the poorest in the U.S., with median household income less than half the national average and 38% of its children living in poverty.

This situation could be quickly remedied if the DOE would simply do now what it should have done earlier, namely, abide by the law and conduct an Environmental Impact Statement for its planned transport, transfer, and storage of LANL waste at the transfer point near Antonito. Such an EIS would detail potential dangers associated with the proposed plan as well as explore alternatives to this plan.

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center stands strongly behind CCCW and their colleagues in taking their complaint to federal court. But we also believe that they should not have to go to court to get a federal agency to do the right thing. Accordingly, we and other Colorado organizations just sent a letter to members of the Colorado Congressional delegation urging them to insist that DOE immediately announce its intention to conduct an EIS for this proposed activity.

Rate this article: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...

What do you think? Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.