History & Highlights

CCNS held multiple town meetings and demonstrations, disseminated fact sheets and waged a media campaign to educate people about transportation, health, safety, and environmental problems in DOE's 1988 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for WIPP. As a result of these efforts approximately 600 people testified over four days at the Santa Fe EIS hearings.

Family against WIPP - 13k.jpg

CCNS's reputation for voicing the people's concerns about WIPP in northern New Mexico prompted Congress to invite the organization to testify five times before subcommittees debating WIPP legislation. Representative Bill Richardson scheduled an unprecedented congressional committee hearing on the WIPP land withdrawal bill in Santa Fe. Over 350 people attended.

CCNS joined the New Mexico Attorney General and other groups in a lawsuit to prevent DOE from prematurely and illegally opening WIPP. The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. granted a permanent injunction against bringing waste to WIPP without congressionally-authorized land withdrawal.

CCNS played a leading role in rallying local and national support for independent regulation of DOE at WIPP. Success for this campaign came when Congress passed the 1992 WIPP Land Withdrawal Act which included a requirement that EPA independently regulate DOE.

For years, the rallying cry for New Mexicans concerned about WIPP's safety had been: "WIPP must meet EPA standards before accepting nuclear waste!" In 1993, DOE withdrew its plans to bring nuclear waste to WIPP before demonstrating compliance with EPA standards. DOE was forced into this position because of EPA's independent regulatory role and public pressure.

CCNS responded to Mescalero Apache plans to build a monitored retrievable storage facility for commercial high level waste in New Mexico by coordinating the formation of a national coalition of nuclear safety groups which crossed the traditional division between military and commercial waste. This coalition included Indian tribes from other states who opposed their tribe's plans to build nuclear waste storage facilities on tribal lands.

CCNS has attended numerous invitational conferences, meetings, and technical conventions to assure that EPA's compliance criteria for WIPP are strict and objective. Despite public efforts, EPA changed its criteria to favor DOE and failed to disclose crucial documents to the public. As a result, the final criteria are fatally flawed. CCNS, Southwest Research and Information Center and the New Mexico Attorney General filed suit against EPA to prevent DOE from coopting the regulatory process, and to insist that public disclosure laws are followed.