* Early Thursday morning on February 26,
the Santa Fe City Council rescinded an agreement with DOE
officials, and an ordinance limiting the time when the federal
government could transport nuclear waste through the heart of the
city--but the Department of Energy says it will abide by the
original agreement anyway.
The council also approved 2 resolutions barring nuclear
waste from being trucked along St. Francis Drive, until the
completion of a two-lane relief route later this year.
The DOE plans to begin shipping waste from Los Alamos
National Laboratory to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)
near Carlsbad, New Mexico as soon as the plant is given
permission to open, said George Dials, the DOE's project manager
for WIPP. In a letter this week, Dials told the council that
even if they withdrew from the agreement "it will not change our
plans to begin shipping these wastes once we receive the final
certificate of compliance from the EPA. "
When asked whether shipments of materials which have waited at
LANL for 40 years could wait a few months more, until the
completion of the bypass, Mr. Dials said no. He did, however,
agree to consider an alternate route if it was properly
Councilors said that rescinding the agreement would send a
strong message to Washington. "It's not too late to say we made
a mistake," said Councilor Patty Bushee, who sponsored the
original ordinance in October, limiting transuranic waste
shipments on St. Francis. "We knew then we needed to do
something. I think we're doing the right thing now. "
Santa Fe city attorney Mark Basham said that under federal
regulations, "it appears that the DOE could do what it wants to
do. But there also appears to be a chance to challenge the DOE on
the grounds that what they are doing amounts to environmental
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