This is going out to statewide environmental groups and select media. Please forward to all your lists.
March 8 is D-Day (Dump-Day) for Piketon
We can spend the next thirty years fighting against a high-level waste dump at Piketon -- or we can spend the next week working intensely to produce a massive public turnout at the DOE hearing on the night of March 8. Simple as that.
The US Department of Energy intends to move ALL of the nation's commercial spent fuel to the Appalachian community of Piketon in Pike County, Ohio. This is the same material that had been headed to Yucca Mountain in Nevada -- until DOE scientists on that project were caught falsifying safety data and a staunch Yucca opponent became Senate Majority Leader. The Bush Administration also intends to invite other countries to send their spent fuel to Piketon, as a substitute for a nuclear non-proliferation policy.
DOE promises that any spent fuel "storage" will be temporary, while Yucca Mountain is prepared for final disposal. Since Yucca has no prospect of ever opening, we call the Piketon plan a DUMP.
March 8, one week from today, DOE will conduct its only public hearing in Ohio on the GNEP siting process before it selects the final locations. The hearing will be from 6 pm to 9:30 pm at the OSU Endeavor Center in Piketon.
Basic directions are: From the intersection of Route 23 and Route 32 in Piketon (even dyslexics can find that easily), go one mile east on Route 32. At the traffic light, turn right on Shyville Road, as if entering the A-Plant. You will see the Endeavor Center immediately on your left.
The hearing will consist of three parts: 1) a question-and-answer session limited to procedural matters (that is, to clarify DOE's procedure, NOT issues related to the site), 2) An "information" session at which attendees can acquire information from various tables at the event -- SONG will have a table, 3) public testimony limited to between 2 and 5 minutes per speaker.
DOE and the dumping advocates are actively trying to DISCOURAGE attendance at this hearing. They are doing this through intentional confusion. For example, Greg Simonton, the director of SODI, just announced a series of three "information events," to begin on March 20, without reference to the March 8 meeting. Since the papers carried news of his announcement, most people assume that the March 8 event has been canceled.
MARCH 8 is ON and is the IMPORTANT event.
Since Simonton says that his three "events" will be to distribute information ONLY, March 8 will be the only opportunity for the public to register its protests, before site selection.
Here is how DOE has arranged this insane facsimile of public process:
1. In August 2006, DOE announced a "competition" for "study awards" for the siting of facilities under its GNEP program. (GNEP stands for Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.) The facilities are to include a centralized storage site (i.e. dump) for commercial spent fuel, a future reprocessing plant, and a future "burner reactor" to transmute the reprocessed waste. DOE refers to the two latter facilities together as "an integrated recycling center" which is intentionally confusing because reprocessing is technically different from recycling.
2. Faced with media accusations from Ohio that the "competition" was a hoax and that the process was rigged to select Piketon as the dumpsite, with Savannah River, SC, as the site for a "recycling center," DOE postponed its intended award of $5 million each to these two sites. Instead, at the end of November 2006, DOE announced awards of nearly $11 million to eleven different sites, some of which never expected serious consideration.
3. Each awardee has a 90-day "study" period that commenced around February 1 and will end May 1. Each awardee is to conduct three "public events" at which stakeholders are to be informed and their opinions gathered. However, no stakeholders at Piketon have been identified since there is no Stakeholder Advisory Board at Piketon as at other sites. In violation of its contract, SODI has announced that opinions will not be gathered at these events, since, in its view, the public has already consented to host GNEP facilities at Piketon.
4. After May 1, DOE will proceed to select sites, according to a formula that weighs "stakeholder support and concerns" 20% in the decision. However, since SODI has identified no stakeholders at Piketon and will report no concerns to DOE, and since concerns from other sites will be reported, our unreported concerns will count for nothing in the site selection.
5. In January, DOE announced that it will prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for GNEP before it selects the sites. By doing this, it can effectively avoid addressing any site-specific concerns. In other words, the process of preparing the environmental impact statement will be effectively complete BEFORE any community knows that its site has been selected. PEIS scoping hearings are being held at each of the eleven "candidate" sites, thus watering down the concerns raised at any one site. March 8 is the scoping hearing for Piketon.
At scoping hearings already conducted, boosters have outnumbered opponents by five to one or ten to one. We can expect they will try to do the same here. That's why we MUST TURN OUT MASSIVE NUMBERS OF OPPONENTS.
Note: The South Carolina governor and other public officials there have clarified that they welcome a future reprocessing plant and burner reactor, however they have barred a centralized storage site for the spent fuel in that state. So guess where the storage site will go?
Digging out from the snow pile
Here's how we can maximize turnout on the 8th and stop them from claiming that this community supports a dump:
1: E-mail this and future mailings to all your lists and e-mail contacts. Send your e-mail lists to me or refer your contacts to me so we maintain a master list.
2. Write letters to the editor to every paper in your area encouraging turnout on the 8th.
3. Bring your friends, family, kids, parents on March 8 and have every person who attends sign up to speak.
4. Announce this at clubs, schools, meetings. Go door to door in your community carrying the SONG petition.
5. Live, breathe and eat March 8 for the next week. Make it your number one priority -- you'll be in good company.
6. Rent a bus or van to bring members of your group from larger cities. It's a whole lot easier to do it once now than to do it 30 times over the next three decades.
7. Bring signs to the hearing to hold up in the room -- I suggest not on sticks. Slogans like "Don't Dump on Piketon," "Ohio OPPOSES GNEP" and "Group X Supports Southern Ohio Neighbors Group" would be good.
8. Statewide environmental groups are welcome to share the "opponent" tables at the March 8 hearing. Bring literature.
9. At other sites, DOE has conducted a press conference before the hearing -- so come early and help commandeer their press conference.
Most of all, make it your mission to get firm commitments from ten people you contact that they will come AND sign up to speak.
You will receive more detailed talking points for testimony over the next week but here are some basics. Focus your comments on the uniqueness of the Piketon site, rather than attacking GNEP nationwide (the latter will be done at other hearings including one in DC):
1. Since the hearing is on "procedural" issues, complain loudly about the history of deception over this whole process. Plans for a high-level waste dump at Piketon were developed in total secrecy for two years. Community "support" was announced by Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, before the community had even been told about it. We were promised community "veto power" on GNEP -- Well, where is it? Make it clear that SODI does NOT represent this community. Protest the absence of DEMOCRACY.
2. Make it clear that this is a statewide issue in Ohio; single hearings in Piketon advertised locally will not cut it. The DOE GNEP contracts specifically require that "state AND community stakeholder concerns" be identified.
3. Complain about the pattern of outright lies. 8,000 jobs have been promised to come from GNEP, but Piketon is only being considered for waste storage, which would bring less than a hundred jobs. The waste storage was promised as "temporary" but the U.S. Department of Interior has said that any DOE assurance of temporary storage is meaningless.
4. Complain LOUDLY that SONIC, SODI and DOE have all refused to release copies of the Piketon GNEP application, even though the application is a request by supposedly public groups for funding by a federal agency. That application contains the disclosures of the real plans for Piketon. The community cannot reasonably make an informed decision until we see it.
5. Greg Simonton, the vice president of SONIC, has said that community support for USEC's centrifuge plant is the same thing as supporting a GNEP waste dump. Make it clear that this is NOT true.
6. Dan Moore, the president of SONIC, calls this "The American Recycling Center." Yet SONIC has contracted to give 52% of its "study grant" to AREVA, a French-based company that specializes in the management of spent fuel. AREVA is owned by the French government. Have fun with that.
7. Talk about the number of jobs and businesses that will flee the area if Piketon becomes the largest nuclear waste dump on the planet.
8. Complain about the site being kept unavailable for real solutions to our energy needs. A company wants to put an ethanol plant at the site, but DOE is holding the site in reserve for GNEP. An ethanol plant would boost the local farm economy and produce real jobs and real energy NOW, not fifty years in the future.
9. Complain that Piketon has no Stakeholder Advisory Board and insist that DOE create such a board before it sites any new facility here.
10. Complain that the Piketon site has unique attributes that cannot be addressed in a nationwide environmental assessment process. Uniquely, the site sits on top of and adjacent to a complex of ancient Indian earthworks, protected under the National Historic Preservation Act. NHPA requires a separate public process that DOE has not followed for GNEP.
11. Complain that the process was obviously rigged to select Piketon for the waste dump, which raises environmental justice issues since this community is among the poorest in Ohio. The fact that it was rigged is evident from the fact that though Piketon received one of the smallest initial grants (since most of the preparatory work at Piketon is already done), the Piketon budget gives the third highest amount to personnel and the second highest amount for travel (to France most likely).
12. Complain that SONIC has already violated its contract with DOE by announcing that it will not solicit stakeholder concerns at its three "information events."
13. Most of all, make it clear that you oppose ANY use of the site for high-level nuclear waste, that your neighbors, your organization and friends oppose it, that if any reasonable poll of this community and state were taken, it would be clear we overwhelmingly oppose it. And please state your organization's support of SONG.
DEMAND DEMOCRACY, IT IS YOUR AMERICAN RIGHT.
Remember, One Day to D-Day.
SONG: Southern Ohio Neighbors Group
P.O. Box 161, Piketon OH 45661
e-mail: SHIPPSONG@aol.com www.OhioNeighbors.org