Piketon’s Chandler rips Ohio delegation; Pike Commissioner vows legal action
In a virtual meeting Tuesday, the Ohio EPA announced it plans to issue the Waste Acceptance Criteria Implementation Plan, which outlines the disposition process for materials allowed to be placed into the controversial On-Site Waste Disposal Facility at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant near Piketon.
The announcement comes despite calls from officials with the Village of Piketon and the Pike County Board of Commissioners for more engagement from the public on the contaminants that will be permitted inside the radiological landfill.
During the meeting, the Ohio EPA explained the Waste Acceptance Criteria had been established in 2015 during the process that led to the Waste Disposition Record of Decision. Ohio EPA says the Implementation Plan deals primarily with the execution of the disposition of wastes previously determined by the 2015 Waste Acceptance Criteria.
Piketon Councilwoman Jennifer Chandler, a longtime critic of the U.S. Department of Energy and the landfill, asked multiple questions during the virtual forum. Afterwards, she said she remains frustrated by DOE, the Ohio EPA and Ohio’s federal delegation by what she calls a complete disregard for the people of Southern Ohio.
“I’m getting angrier and angrier as Ohio EPA continues to dodge questions and continues to suggest there was public involvement in this process,” Chandler said. “I do appreciate the forum and appreciate it was tough for some (Ohio EPA representatives) to say what they had to say. But it was very clear to all of us who is really in charge of this project, and that’s DOE and it’s going to have its way in Southern Ohio because Ohio EPA can’t do anything about it.”
Chandler said the federal delegation has been absent on the controversial topic.
“I put the blame on (Ohio senators) Rob Portman, Sherrod Brown and (2nd District Rep.) Brad Wenstrup, so now they can have the largest nuclear waste dump east of the Mississippi River. Ohio EPA has no authority on the project and DOE doesn’t have to answer to anyone but Congress,” Chandler said. “So, when I point the finger, I point it at Congress because they continue to fund (the landfill) despite objections from the public.”
Requests for comments from each of the offices of Portman, Brown and Wenstrup made late Tuesday by Southern Ohio Today were not immediately answered.
Pike County Commissioner Tony Montgomery was also a participant on Tuesday’s virtual meeting. Montgomery, who has also been a critic of DOE and Ohio EPA in recent months on WAC and other issues, said the meeting was unproductive and that the Ohio EPA’s announcement that it will move forward with the issuance of the WAC Implementation Plan means that legal avenues must be pursued.
“We have no choice but to file an injunction because we truly have no voice in what’s going on. The EPA said tonight they are on the verge of issuing the WAC IP, so at that point we’re done,” Montgomery said. “They have decided what goes in the ground and the fate of my community and we apparently don’t have any say about it. So, what else do we do?”
It was announced during the virtual forum that DOE will host an information session on Oct. 15 to provide an update on the Waste Acceptance Criteria and information about the meeting will be released at a later date by the Department.
Tuesday’s virtual meeting also had questions from members of the Ohio Sierra Club, Lee Blackburn and Pat Marida, who have called for process equipment to be removed from the A-Plant’s three large process buildings before they are demolished.
That position is supported by Montgomery, who says the majority of radiological contamination would be removed if the process equipment from the X-333, X-330 and X-326 process buildings is removed and shipped off-site.
“It’s only common sense. We all know the process gas equipment – from the beginning of the 333 building to end of 326 building – was used to enrich uranium. So, there are going to be parts of all that equipment that have enriched uranium and radiological contamination in them,” he said. “If it’s PGE, it should be shipped and should not be put in the ground in Pike County. Not just for safety reasons, but because my community doesn’t want it and that should mean something.”
No timeframe was provided by Ohio EPA for when the approval of the WAC Implementation Plan would be issued.
DOE had no comment on Tuesday’s virtual meeting.