Congressional candidate for Colorado's 7th district, Dave Chandler, says Democrat Perlmutter is pandering and Republican O'Donnell is irresolute on a local environmental issue.
It is a curious thing.
Apparently Ed Perlmutter and Rick O'Donnell believe that other communities can not do enough for the Denver metro area -- they should take all of the radioactive hazardous waste that we want to ship to them. We don't want to live with it -- so the New Mexicans and Idahoans can live with it.
Perlmutter is trying to make an issue out of the Deer Trail hazard waste storage facility in Adams County being permitted to accept tailings from a Denver radium mill that operated between 1915 to 1927. In the 1920s this radium 'dirt' was used to pave streets in the Capitol Hill area.
According to the Commerce City Beacon:
"For several years now, Denver street crews have systematically attacked the 350,000 tons, approximately 100,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil at 44 different sites throughout the city. In an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers, the radium laced soils, asphalt and rock has been shipped via gondola rail car to the U.S. Ecology dump in Grand View, Idaho.
With 86,823 cubic yards of waste remaining, the 2006-2007 streets projects have been postponed because the Rocky Mountain Low Level Radioactive Waste Board denied Denver’s request for a permit to export the waste to Idaho."
So, even though 15,000 cubic yards of contaminated Denver dirt has already been sent to Idaho, Perlmutter thinks that our Rocky Mountain neighbor to the northwest needs to do a whole lot more. “There is no reason for Deer Trail to become a regional radioactive waste dump for waste from out of state because there are already places outside of Colorado that can take it," says Perlmutter.
And Rick O'Donnell now apparently agrees with Perlmutter. The Denver Post reports:
"We're not talking about materials from Energy Department defense-grade weapons - there's no nuclear material, uranium or plutonium," O'Donnell was quoted as telling Environment and Energy Daily, an online publication based in Washington, D.C., that tracks energy and environmental policies.
O'Donnell's campaign said he hadn't been fully aware of the issue when he spoke with the reporter. It said O'Donnell now opposes the dumping of low-level radioactive waste at the 250-acre Clean Harbors Deer Trail Facility near Last Chance.
(There's your dynamic two-party system for ya ... they agree to agree.)
But let's be clear -- a tremendous amount of high level and low level radioactive waste has been sent out of Colorado in recent years.
From the Shattuck superfund site, according to the EPA: In the course of the work to complete the remediation of the monolith, perimeter soils, and Bannock Street ROW, a total of 2244 railcars containing approximately 243,101 tons of soil and monolith materials were shipped to U.S. Ecology" in Grand View, Idaho.
According to the Department of Energy from the Rocky Flats clean up, "over 15,000 cubic meters of transuranic/transuranic mixed waste to WIPP" (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) in New Mexico.
So, I agree with the Thursday, September 14, editorial of the Rocky Mountain News:
"Denver has put its effort to get rid of radium-bearing pavement on hold because it's no longer willing to ship the material all the way to Idaho.Part of human existence is that we have to live with the consequences of our actions. It is part of the trade-offs that we make every single day in our society. We drive cars, we have to accept some level of accidents and pollution; we buy packaged food at the grocery store, we have to hire someone to cart away our trash into a nearby landfill; we benefit from modern medicine, we must figure out ways of disposing of medical waste safely.
And it shouldn't have to. A site near the town of Last Chance in Adams County has been cleared by the state health department to take the low-level radioactive waste.
But the county stubbornly refuses to let it go there, even though other landfills in its jurisdiction take more dangerous materials. ...
... The squabble has been going on for more than a year, and now Democrat Ed Perlmutter is trying to exploit the issue in the 7th District congressional race. ...
... The pavement isn't the kind of stuff that should be going, say, to Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The low-level waste emits less radioactivity than someone would be exposed to in a year from being outdoors.
The Last Chance facility was licensed by the state late last year but Adams County continues to refuse to let in the waste on grounds that it might also have to take similar, perhaps more dangerous, waste from other sources. But if any waste were more dangerous, the state could revoke the permit. ...
... The facility is cleared to accept materials that fall below the state threshold for radioactive waste: 0.002 microcuries per gram. This covers naturally occurring radioactive materials that are so low-level that they're technically exempted from the state's definition of radioactive waste.
It's time for Adams County to relent so Denver can resume its pavement-clearing program. Denver saves a little money, the county earns a little money and no harm is done to the local environment or residents. "
In this case, for instance, we want to be able to buy lumber and rose bushes at the Home Depot built on the decontaminated radium mill site, we may just have to find a place to put the detritus of the clean up.
What is wrong and unfair about that?
"Out of sight, out of mind" is not a progressive environmental policy. But you hope it sounds good if you're a traditional, establishment politican trying to pander to 'green' voters.
Like global warming, we cannot take steps to mitigate negative impacts and work on solutions if we refuse to recognize that the problem exists, or we ignore it, or we just try and shove the 'inconvenient truth' under the carpet.
If we want to live with less toxic waste there are things we can do, as this Greenpeace fact sheet points out:
• Dangerous chemicals should be replaced by safer substitutes.
• Manufacturers must take responsibility for the disposal of their products.
• All chemicals should be fully tested before they are allowed on the market
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
• Tell Congress to pass legislation that requires the substitution of dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives.
• Buy only from companies that make clean products; for example, many companies have eliminated vinyl (PVC) from their products and packaging.
• Contact companies and demand to know what chemicals are used in their products.
Strict monitoring of waste sites like Deer Trail is part of the license and the law. Demanding that public health officials be diligent in supervising this site is critical -- we should always be requiring accountablility for the safe operation of this site from its owners and the government. I also support as part of any monitoring process -- oversight from a citizen board which includes both independent scientists and members of effected communities.
If I am elected to Congress, I will be an advocate for no-nonsense action to protect our environment and the health of the residents of the 7th district. But, since I do not take special interest campaign contributions and will not involve myself with Washington, D.C. lobbyists, I will be a free, independent voice for doing the right thing.
We can do more to keep ourselves safer from unpleasant side effects of our modern lives, but not by waffling or by making ridiculous statements like Perlmutter's: "We have to ensure that the 7th District does not become a radioactive sacrifice zone."
'Pandering' Perlmutter and 'Irresolute' Rick are not demonstrating the kind of thoughtful representation that common sense thinking people in the 7th Congressional District deserve.
A vote for Dave Chandler for Congress will be a ballot cast for a fresh, new way of representing the people of Colorado.
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