2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: loc@icx.net
Date: 19 Aug 2003 15:42:03 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Media Statement
For Immediate Release
August 14, 2003


U. S. Department of Energy Citizens Advisory boards were established after hard fought gains by people who lived in the shadow of DOE nuclear
processing facilities. During the 1990s the many years of silence and secrecy gave way to the right of the public to know the dangers in which they lived. This led to the establishment of the Site Specific Advisory Boards now informally referred to as Citizens Advisory Boards (CABs). DOE has made a substantial investment of resources and time in the CABs in order to establish a dialogue and credibility within the local communities in the region of these facilities. Although Paducah was one of the last of the major DOE sites to get an advisory board, public involvement reform did purport to come to Paducah in 1996 in the face of local pressure and national organization oversight.

Many of us who had been involved in DOE activities before formation of the Board decided to give DOE the benefit of the doubt and to participate in the Citizens Advisory Board process. Some of us who signed this statement joined after the formation of the Board. All of us had hoped that as Board members we would be able to have meaningful input into DOE's decision-making process. After all, these boards are chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The purpose of this act is to insure that federal advisory boards operate under strict guidelines and reflect a balanced, wide range of views. However, we have been disappointed. Our tenure on this Board has been difficult due to the lack of information from DOE combined with the lack of dedicated support staff and the failure of DOE to take board points of view and recommendations seriously. Now difficult has turned into impossible and impossible has turned into embarrassing. We are accomplishing nothing, but we are spending tens of thousands of dollars of public money with little or no accounting. This is the shared view of all seven of us who now submit our resignations from this Board. We can no longer be a part of this failure, a failure that has to be laid directly upon the DOE.

Some of the most critical reasons it has become intolerable to stay on the CAB are as follows:

1. There is no difference in being involved as a general citizen in DOE public participation activities compared to being a Board member. Yet the Board is costing the taxpayers $200,000 a year or more. What's worse is that Board members cannot even get access to detailed records about how contractors are spending CAB money. It is becoming embarrassing to be a part of this waste of money at a time when the rest of the public is being cut out of the process and cleanup money is being
jeopardized. This is not to say that public participation is not an important part of an agency such as the DOE. The DOE has a legal obligation and a civic duty to involve the public in its decision-making process. However, the Paducah CAB process is not providing the public with the information necessary to fulfill those obligations and duties, yet it is spending a good portion of the public participation budget.

2. DOE is not providing the CAB with information in a timely manner to allow it to do its job despite the Board's continuing complaints about this problem. In some cases, the DOE officials seem to be making it difficult to obtain key information about environmental problems at the site that could be important in cleaning up the site and surrounding lands. (Apparently, some of this is done deliberately to hide problems in their proposed processes.)

3. Recently, the DOE handpicked a new Board member bypassing the Board's procedures. Such action interferes with the balance the Board
is supposed to maintain.

4. The fact that the Board's administrative staff works for the main cleanup contractor appears to be a conflict of interest. It is particularly troubling that the very Company that provides the Board with information and support reports to the prime contractor for the cleanup work at the PGDP. This systematic conflict of interest adversely affects the Board's ability to get information and do its work.

5. DOE's rejection of existing cleanup agreements and abuse of the dispute resolution procedure in the Federal Facilities Agreement has made it virtually impossible for the public, including the Board, to keep up with and be involved in the progress of the attempted resolution of these disputes. Resolution of these disputes is at the core of any progress being made in site cleanup.

6. DOE has distanced itself from public input by moving the decision process to Lexington and by putting Bill Murphie in charge. Now all major decisions and discussions are taking place far from Paducah where neither the Board nor the public has access or input to these discussions. This shows a lack of faith in public input and in the Board. The Board has become a public involvement hoax.

7. DOE continues to reject recommendations from the Board. This makes our efforts even more meaningless.

8. DOE's actions indicate a desire to ignore fundamental federal regulations that pertain directly to the cleanup and handling of waste materials (i.e. hazardous/toxic waste treatment through blending).

9. DOE indicates a willingness to support violations of DOE guidelines meant to promote the free flow of information pertaining to the correction of environmental problems.

10. De facto removal of the DOE site manager without any explanation caused us grave concern. He was the first and only DOE manager to show that he was really serious abut getting to the heart of issues and having an honest debate. Was this person removed because he was, as they say, "acting too much like a regulator"? We have no idea: he simply vanished from the process with no official DOE word on the matter.

The resigning CAB members are not saying that the public should not be concerned and involved in public oversight on DOE's cleanup activities at the Paducah site. Indeed, it is critical that citizens become involved in these activities. However, it borders on public deception to present the Board as a public involvement vehicle. Those now leaving the Board intend to remain involved in all DOE public involvement processes, including meeting together to discuss current issues from time to time. Too much money has been wasted on the sham cleanup at the Paducah DOE site. Unfortunately, now we believe we can make more of a difference off the Board than on it. The resigning members no longer want to be a part of this waste. Instead, we want to speak out loud and clear as independent citizens to help our community confront the huge environmental and economic problems at the facility in a way that is sustainable both environmentally and economically.

Merryman Kemp, Chair 270 442-7636
Mark Donham 618 564-3367
Ronald Lamb 270 462-3636
Craig Rhodes 618 564-2645
Rosa Scott 270 442-7814
John Tillson 270 898-4332
Greg Waldrop 270 444-9997

Susan L. Gawarecki, Ph.D., Executive Director
Oak Ridge Reservation Local Oversight Committee
102 Robertsville Road, Suite B, Oak Ridge, TN 37830
Toll free 888-770-3073 ~ www.local-oversight.org

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