To Members of the
Cal Rad Forum Requests A “No” Vote on AB 2214 The California Radioactive
Materials Management Forum (Cal Rad Forum) respectfully requests a “no”
vote on AB 2214 (Keeley).
AB 2214 would reject the lawfully licensed Ward Valley site for a needed,
and legally required, low-level radioactive waste disposal facility
and specify requirements for a facility that conflict with U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission regulations. The proposed requirements in AB 2214
describe an interim storage facility, not a disposal facility.
The Proposed, Safe, Ward Valley Site.
Just as we would not think it appropriate to ask the Legislature to
select and approve a site for a low-level radioactive waste disposal
facility, so we believe it a mistake for the Legislature to reject a
lawfully approved site.
Every state and federal agency with jurisdiction has approved the Ward
Valley site. In addition, the National Academy of Sciences, in a special
report issued in 1995, rejected opponents’ arguments. In 1993, the California
Department of Health Services licensed Ward Valley, and our State courts
upheld the license and EIR. Favorable findings were rendered by the
U.S. Bureau of Land Management (favorable joint EIR/EIS and a Supplemental
EIS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (two favorable biological opinions),
and the U.S. Geological Survey (favorable comparison with other sites).
In commenting on the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement, the
League of Women Voters of California wrote, “We are pleased that the
site and the siting process meet our goals of maximum protection for
public health and the environment and of citizen participation in the
decision-making process at all levels of government.”
AB 2214 Describes an Interim Storage Facility, Not a Disposal Facility.
AB 2214 would establish new, unnecessary performance and prescriptive
requirements for a low-level waste facility. These requirements would
not meet the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s requirements for a safe
facility. (Title 10 Part 61 of the Code of Federal Regulations.) The
Southwestern Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission has commented,
”…AB 2214 would set criteria for what appears to be a storage facility.”
(Letter to the Assembly Appropriations Committee; April 18, 2002.) The
Commission notes that a storage facility would be available to the entire
country whereas use of a regional disposal facility would be restricted
to the four states of the Compact. California’s statutory and contractual
obligation under the Compact (P.L. 100-712) is to “Cause a regional
disposal facility to be developed on a timely basis.” (Emphasis added.)
The fiscal impact of AB 2214 on the State would be between $150 and
300 million. If, as proposed by AB 2214, the Legislature rejects the
Ward Valley proposal, the State will have to pay for any future facility.
The State’s current licensee, US Ecology, Inc., has funded the costs
to date of site selection, characterization, license application preparation,
etc. The company says it is prepared to finance completion of the Ward
Valley disposal project. However, it has sued the State because, in
1999, the State ceased efforts to acquire the site from the federal
government. (The cost of site acquisition will also be borne by the
licensee.) After US Ecology’s experience, no private company will risk
its own funds on another effort. Under existing law (Chapter 1177, Statutes
of 1983) if no private developer steps forward, then the job falls to
the Resources Agency. If AB 2214 is enacted, the State would wind up
bearing the upfront costs for two facilities: the facility still needed
to meet disposal needs and the State of California’s obligations plus
the licensee’s expenditures for Ward Valley.
Cal Rad believes that governmental decisions on safe disposal of low-level
radioactive waste should be based on sound science and regulation. These
criteria prevailed in the licensing of the proposed Ward Valley project.
We respectfully urge the Assembly to vote “no” on AB 2214.
cc: Cal Rad Forum Member Organizations
Cal Rad Forum Board of Directors