Thwarting Public Process, Environment Department Rushes Ahead to Hearing

In a hurry to approve permits for nuclear facilities before the end of the year, the Martinez Administration is saying no to requests for more time for the public to prepare for the hearings.  The applicable regulations are specific about the amount of time needed before certain hearing processes begin.  The Administration, however, is rushing to sign off on the permits before they leave office on Monday, December 31st at midnight.

The hearings involve a groundwater discharge permit for Waste Control Specialists and a proposed 30 percent expansion of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  There are others in the queue.

For plans to expand the amount of radioactive and hazardous waste disposed of at WIPP, the public comment period ended on September 20th.   It is expected that a notice of hearing will be mailed on September 22nd, with a public hearing scheduled for October 23rd, only 31 days later, in Carlsbad.

The regulations require when there is a request for a public hearing that negotiations take place between the Environment Department, the facility, and the public to attempt to resolve the issues.  Negotiations generally cut down on the issues going to hearing.  While the Department’s practice has been to hold negotiations before a notice of hearing is mailed out, it plans to begin negotiations on Monday, September 24th.  Objection to negotiations and hearing schedule091918 final    and, scroll down to see August 6, 2018 entries.

Another permit is for groundwater discharges from the Waste Control Specialists radioactive and hazardous waste dump, located in Texas, on the New Mexico-Texas border, just a few miles east of Eunice.

The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 pm on Tuesday, October 2nd, at the Eunice Community Center.  Opportunities for public comment will be available in the evening and at times during the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and possibly through Thursday.

People who need rides to the hearing are invited to arrange transportation by calling (505) 986-9284.

Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping, the Alliance for Environmental Strategies, and other groups and individuals submitted extensive comments about the draft permit and requested a public hearing.  Their comments pointed out the lack of almost any monitoring or other protective provisions in the latest draft permit.

The groups also raised concerns about the gross problems with the collection of documents that are found in the administrative record and its index, which serve as the basis for the permit.  The groups found the record to be “incomplete, inconsistent, and inadequate to allow the public to fully understand and present technical testimony upon which the Secretary of the Environment will make a final determination approving or disapproving [the permit].”, scroll down to “Waste Control Specialists, DP-1817.”

Because of these concerns and others, on September 17th, the groups filed a motion for a continuance of the hearing process.  Affidavit-DeborahReade_DP-1817    and      MotionforaContinuanceSept17_2018_DP-1817

The hearing officer determined that the motion would be heard at the beginning of the October 2nd hearing.


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