In a letter to Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance called for transparency and public involvement in the examination of “alternatives” to the Uranium Processing Facility. OREPA noted the secret “Red Team” which has been studying alternatives to the UPF is preparing to release its report in mid-April, and the result is likely to deviate from the Record of Decision that was issued in 2011.
OREPA sent the following media release out on April 1:
APRIL 1, 2014
OREPA CALLS FOR PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT IN THE “NEW” UPF
LETTER TO SENATOR LAMAR ALEXANDER EXPRESSES CONCERNS
ABOUT SECRET “RED TEAM” PROCESS
The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance released a letter sent to Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander expressing concerns that the secret “Red Team” process for deciding the future of the multi-billion dollar Uranium Processing Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee falls short of the requirement that government agencies involve the public in significant actions.
OREPA’s letter questions notes the almost total secrecy surrounding the Red Team project—even the names of members of the Red Team were withheld from the public.
The letter expresses surprise at the apparent new budgeting model—statements from the Red Team leader, Dr. Thomas Mason, indicate he was given a cost estimate for the UPF in advance of its design and told to hit it. “This turns normal budgeting procedures on its head,” says Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of OREPA, in the letter. “Instead of justifying costs with a blueprint and calculations for materials and labor, a huge number has been pulled out of thin air and presented as a target as though doing so makes it suddenly and magically reasonable.”
OREPA also notes that any change to the UPF plan that falls outside of the Record of Decision for the Y12 Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement will require a re-opening of that process, citing a comment made by Red Team leader Mason: “By definition, when we’re talking about an alternative, it’s something other than the plan of record.”
Since the Y12 EIS was published in 2011, events have demonstrated the inadequacy of the EIS to adequately capture environmental impacts of the UPF project. In the process of constructing a haul road to support the UPF, work crew uncovered a debris field of radioactively contaminated scrap. “It is clear that the original analysis is no longer sufficient,” Hutchison writes in the letter to Alexander.
When it comes to making decisions, the letter states “early involvement of the public is better. It is less expensive, reduces project risk, avoids schedule delays, and ultimately leads to better decisions.”
A copy of OREPA’s letter to Alexander can be found here: