WCS Discharge Permit Comments Due to NMED on Tuesday, October 31st

The New Mexico Environment Department issued a draft permit to Waste Control Specialists allowing for the discharge of 170,500,000 gallons per day of stormwater runoff from the radioactive and hazardous waste storage and disposal facility on the New Mexico – Texas border, five miles east of Eunice, New Mexico.  Public comments about the draft groundwater discharge permit are due to the Environment Department on Tuesday, October 31st by 5 pm.  CCNS has prepared sample public comments you can use to submit your own comments.  WCS_sample_public_comment_102617  (please feel free to use the sample letter in its entirety or copy and paste the sections that appeal to you and customize it to suit your needs)

In January 2017, the Environment Department signed a Resolution Agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to resolve a 2002 Title VI Civil Rights Complaint filed by Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping (CARD) and two other groups about the discriminatory public process conducted for the Triassic Park hazardous waste permit.  The agreement includes steps that the Environment Department must take to provide a non-discriminatory public process for permits.  These include creating a description of the community and a plan of action to address a community’s needs and concerns, as well as providing contact information for government agency officials and local media contacts, among others.  The Resolution Agreement also includes addressing the needs of Low English Proficiency persons and providing the names of those who offer language assistance.  http://nuclearactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/EPA_FINALResolutionLetterandAgreement_TriassicPark_Complainant_011917.pdf

The Environment Department has not completed these steps for the Waste Control Specialists draft permit public process, except translating the public notice into Spanish.  It appears that a majority of residents in Eunice, the closest town to the site, identify as Hispanic and speak Spanish in the home. 

On Wednesday, October 25th, Deborah Reade and CARD, along with representatives of 11 other non-governmental organizations, wrote to the Environment Department requesting the public comment period be stopped until all steps are completed.  These include translating vital documents into Spanish and placing them in the Eunice Public Library or another community location that is open outside of working hours.  Currently, only the draft permit and some notices are on-line.  https://cloud.env.nm.gov/water/resources/_translator.php/3wdGf2YvWP7JR8htsQErkMxbvE56mnoqDRp2BQAIXXbigeEtSCEhgT9cBlqLEUu1aPYvo6Tx0DCi7PD63C+iWBqfziRbTJyw6UkZEhUFeO9N+EtrQ+AOpxEuV2I3n8y/v8Y52RQCXZU=.pdf and https://cloud.env.nm.gov/water/resources/_translator.php/3wdGf2YvWP7JR8htsQErkMxbvE56mnoqDRp2BQAIXXbigeEtSCEhgT9cBlqLEUu1aPYvo6Tx0DA+Wyj0mFVVoUZ8t8naJuIspIlIZ92JvBBS0CWLoFSAWpSpXbZ6raVBOoENhzW82qY=.pdf  All other relevant documents are available only during office hours at the Environment Department’s Santa Fe office – a 700-mile roundtrip for Eunice residents.  Letter-Michelle Hunter_DP-1817andDP-1132

The groups emphasized, “[I]t is irrelevant [ ] that [the Environment Department’s] plans to meet the Resolution Agreement requirements are not finalized.  The Agreement sets up the steps that [the Environment Department] needs to take to make sure they are not discriminating in the public participation process.  However, even if everything is not in place, it is still illegal to discriminate – period.  It is not okay to discriminate ‘one last time,’ [ ].”


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