News from U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer - California

112 Senate Hart Building
Washington, DC 20510

Communications Office 202/224-8120
http://boxer.senate.gov
senator@boxer.senate.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Sandretti

October 21, 1999
202/224-8120

BOXER EXPRESSES CONCERNS ABOUT NEW NUCLEAR WASTE COMMITTEE

Washington, DC--U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today expressed concerns about a new advisory committee and scientific panel established to advise the state concerning its future low-level nuclear waste disposal policy.

In a statement released today, Boxer said, "For these bodies to make credible recommendations, they must put public health and safety first, their mandate must be broad, their composition must be balanced and their deliberations must be open."

Citing an 81 percent reduction in the amount of low-level nuclear waste received at the nation's existing low-level nuclear waste facilities and the availability of out-of-state disposal options, Boxer questioned whether there is a need for a new facility in California.

Boxer also expressed her concern that the committee as currently constituted excludes some of the state's leading public interest advocates on nuclear waste disposal, that the committee may meet only twice before reaching a decision, and that the scientific panel's deliberations might no be made public at all.

Copies of Senator Boxer's statement are available on request.

###

STATEMENT OF U.S. SENATOR BARBARA BOXER ON NEW NUCLEAR WASTE ADVISORY COMMITTEE AND SCIENTIFIC PANEL

In the wake of the reject of the Ward Valley nuclear waste dump proposal, today the University of California announced the establishment of a new nuclear waste advisory committee and scientific advisory panel. The charge of the committee and panel is to advise the state concerning its future low-level nuclear waste policy.

For these bodies to make credible recommendations, they must put public health and safety first, their mandate must be broad, their composition must be balanced and their deliberations must be open. I intend to closely monitor the work of these new advisory bodies.

For more than eight years, I have been deeply involved in the issue of nuclear waste disposal and the discredited proposal to build a nuclear waste dump at Ward Valley. That proposal raised serious public health and environmental concerns, including a real threat to our drinking water drawn from the Colorado River.

Since the Ward Valley proposal surfaced, low-level nuclear waste facilities in the nations have experienced an 81 percent reduction in the amount of waste received. This is due to a reduction in the amount of the low-level nuclear waste generated, as well as new techniques used to compact the waste. Because of these two factors, one existing low-level nuclear waste facility in Utah estimates that it alone will have adequate capacity to dispose of most such waste for the next 46 years.

It is essential that the advisory committee and scientific panel have a clear mandate to consider whether a nuclear waste facility is needed in California at all.

I am concerned, however, that the committee as it is now constituted excludes some of the state's leading public interest advocates on nuclear waste disposal and affords greater representation to nuclear waste generators.

In am also concerned that the committee will meet only twice before reaching a decision. This could severely limit public involvement. Of similar concern is the lack of any provisions for public involvement in the scientific panel's deliberations.

Out decisions on nuclear waste disposal are of vital importance. They will affect millions of Californians today and generations of Californians to come.