Triassic Park Hearings Begin Despite Protests from Dump Developers

* The hearings to discuss the development of Triassic Park, New Mexico's first proposed hazardous waste dump, began this week despite protests from Gandy Marley, Inc. (or GMI), the developers of the site. GMI contended that the group to testify against the dump, Conservative Use of Resources and Environment (or CURE), could not participate in testimony because, according to statements from GMI's lawyer, Pete V. Domenici, Jr., CURE is not "a duly associated, organized or recognized legal entity." Domenici filed a request Monday, October 8th, asking that CURE be excluded from the hearings. GMI's motion to exclude CURE was overruled by Hearing Officer Felicia Orth.

Heather Green, representative for CURE, responded to Domenici's request by filing notice that CURE has asked the Southwest Research and Information Center, in Albuquerque, to be their fiscal agent in New Mexico. Green said, "[CURE's] testimony is relevant ... [GMI's] motion is surely not appropriate, not only because it would deny [CURE's] ability to participate, but because these folks live where the facility is going, and their lives and their property and their well-being will be negatively impacted."

The proposed Triassic Park hazardous waste facility would be located 40-miles east of Roswell. If the permit for the facility were granted, the dump would accept waste such as lead, mercury and PCBs. The site would be allowed to store up to 20 million tons of waste over 20 to 25 years.

CURE is presenting evidence that the site would effect two threatened animal species, the lesser prairie chicken and the sand-dune lizard. CURE also maintains that GMI's groundwater monitoring plan is inadequate, and the transportation routes to the site are inadequate. Many of the highways that the waste would be traveling are narrow and dangerous.

GMI began their expert testimony Monday, addressing such issues as air quality around the site and the threatened species inhabiting the site. GMI's technical experts on air quality both concluded that there would be no threat to air quality of the region should the facility open.

Another issue in contention was the cleanup costs of the site. GMI contends that $12.8 million dollars will effectively cover cleanup once the site is closed. The New Mexico Environment Department (or NMED) wants $14.1 million for cleanup. Dale Gandy, one of the developers, said, "We have some differences with NMED, but we anticipate that we can resolve those differences." Also, in the public comment period, there was concern that GMI would not comply with closure procedure. Gandy replied that, "we are prepared to comply in every aspect."

The Hearing Officer permitted Deborah Reade, of Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping, to offer proof on Civil Rights issues on behalf of CURE, subject to the approval of NMED Secretary, Pete Maggiore.

Jimi Gadzia, of the board of directors of CURE, stressed the importance of CURE's presence at these hearings, saying, "This facility is going to operate for 20 to 25 years, and this massive amount of hazardous waste is going to be in our community for years. When the operators close this facility, it's still going to be there impacting us."

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