Higgins raises concerns over potential nuclear waste transport through region (January 2016)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Congressman Brian Higgins is fighting back against the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) attempts at moving forward with the transportation of nuclear waste between the United States and Canada without a thorough review.

The DOE recently confirmed the intent to transport highly enriched uranium, despite the House of Representatives unanimous approval of a proper review of such action. The shipments would come across the border in a series of up to 150 truck shipments, with each truck containing as much as 60 gallons of highly enriched uranium.

Higgins has raised concern over the potential of a “transport-related terrorist attack” on the region.

According to Higgins, the DOE has been referring to three reports that date back nearly two decades, rather than undergoing an updated, rigorous environmental impact study (EIS).

“The Department of Energy’s disinterest or disregard for the potential impact this plan could have on our community and many others is frankly astonishing,” said Higgins, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. “After the DOE refused our reasonable request for a full environmental review of plans to move dangerous material across the northern border and throughout several states, Congress unanimously saw the wisdom of conducting a threat assessment of the plan. Still the DOE is choosing to sidestep that directive and instead rely on decades old data that does nothing to address the specific characteristics of the transportation route and the realities of post-9/11 security considerations.”

Higgins says the report that the DOE has been using does not take into consideration the potential of an attack on the route at hand. Instead, he says there is a small portion addressing “Hypothetical Acts of Sabotage or Terrorism” in regards to a nearly 14 year old study relating to the disposal of nuclear fuel at a nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

The Buffalo-Niagara region sits within a 500 mile radius of 55 percent of the American population and 62 percent of the Canadian population. The region is also in close proximity to the Great Lakes, which contain 84 percent of America’s surface fresh water.

While the truck routes are not made available to the public, it is “highly likely” that they would cross the border at the Peace Bridge, and subsequently pass through Western New York to their final destination to a DOE storage facility in South Carolina.

Published: January 6, 2016, 1:29 pm | Updated: January 6, 2016, 1:30 pm, as posted at http://wivb.com/2016/01/06/higgins-raises-concerns-over-potential-nuclear-waste-transport-through-region/

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