February 23, 1999
Ms. Kathy D. Izell
Assistant Manager for Technical Services
U.S. Department of Energy
Nevada Operations Office
P.O. Box 98518
Las Vegas, Nevada 89193-8518
Dear Ms. Izell:
Thank you for your letter of February 2, 1999 regarding the process for involving the public in planning for the future of DOE's off-site environmental monitoring program. While, as you point out, DOE has attempted to obtain input on the program from various sources in Nevada, those efforts have been limited to a very small segment of the larger population that will be affected by any changes DOE may ultimately make in the monitoring program.
The public outcry that accompanied media reports last year about DOE's plans to substantially change the way the program is operated should indicate to Department decision makers that Nevadans view the monitoring program as important to the protection of public health and safety and want to be heard before any major changes are made to it.
I am writing to request that DOE hold public meetings in several locations within Nevada to (1) inform the general public of alternatives being considered for the future composition and implementation of the off-site monitoring program and (2) actively solicit input from members of the general public regarding the program and the alternatives being proposed. At a minimum, public meetings should be held, at a minimum, in Las Vegas, Nye County, Lincoln County, and the Reno area (to afford northern Nevadans the opportunity to participate). Meetings should be widely publicized and scheduled so as to maximize public attendance (i.e., both afternoon and evening sessions).
In addition to holding public meetings, DOE should also solicit formal comments on proposed alternative designs for the off-site monitoring program from affected State agencies and local governments. This could be done by preparing a report spelling out details of various alternatives and then circulating the report for comment among interested parties.
Given the history of radiological contamination from Nevada Test Site activities over the years, continuing revelations about radiation exposures and impacts to public health, safety, and the environment from DOE facilities around the country, and the widespread public distrust for DOE, it is imperative that plans for future implementation of off-site environmental monitoring activities be fully and publically disclosed and that meaningful public input be vigorously solicited. The truncated public process outlined in your letter is not sufficient.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you about a schedule for meaningful public meetings relative to the future of DOE's off-site monitoring program.
Robert R. Loux
Nevada Congressional Delegation
Gerald Johnson, DOE/Nevada Operation Office
Allen Biaggi, NDEP
Paul Liebendorfer, NDEP
Allen Tinney, Health Division
Stan Marshall, Health Division