“LAZY format”: A Failed WIPP Community Engagement Meeting in Santa Fe

The U.S. Department of Energy and the Office of Environmental Management held a Presentation and “Community Forum” for Santa Fe on the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), formatted as a hybrid in-person and Zoom meeting on Thursday, July 7, 2022. Nuclear Watch New Mexico is extremely unsatisfied with the outcome of this meeting, and is not alone in criticizing both the substance of the meeting and the format.

We have recorded this public forum with the chat included because there was an overwhelming amount of participation within the chat, and we feel the chat is a valuable resource in and of itself, as well as a testament to the large amount of community concern present around the subject of WIPP. View that recording HERE (and below).

Many of those writing in had, at the very least, pressing questions related to issues of worker safety, safety of cross-country waste transportation, and more, and at the most, vehement, outright protest against the expansion of WIPP for a variety of reasons. In general, the meeting was a failure. According to a July 8 article titled “Critics Displeased with Forum on Nuclear Waste Site” in the “Santa Fe New Mexican” written by Scott Wyland,

“[Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen] wrote a letter to federal emergency management officials…complaining about how the forum was conducted, she said. One official wrote back, expressing sympathy and saying the forums are supposed to foster public participation and boost transparency, Hansen said. If those are the goals, Hansen added, then this forum failed miserably.’ ‘I feel the people were treated with such disrespect,’ Hansen said.”

Below are excerpts of the issues raised in the chat. It is apparent how increasingly frustrated participants become throughout the course of the meeting. DOE and The Office of Environmental Management need to look at the harsh reality of the outcome of this “community engagement” attempt and fix its atrocious treatment of stakeholders and community activists who are standing up for the land and citizens of New Mexico despite their voiced concerns being continually ignored and silenced.

There was valid concern about the serious delay in hosting the meeting:

There was also concern about the necessity of the lengthy informational presentation:

One pressing question that came up often is, WHY is New Mexico the county’s only radioactive waste repository?

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