2004 Online Voters' Guide: Measures

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INITIATIVE MEASURE 297
MIXED RADIOACTIVE AND NONRADIOACTIVE HAZARDOUS WASTE

Note: The ballot title and explanatory statement were written by the Attorney General as required by law. The Fiscal Impact Statement was written by the Office of Financial Management.

BALLOT TITLE

Initiative Measure No. 297 concerns “mixed” radioactive and nonradioactive hazardous waste.

This measure would add new provisions concerning “mixed” radioactive and nonradioactive hazardous waste, requiring cleanup of contamination before additional waste is added, prioritizing cleanup, providing for public participation and enforcement through citizen lawsuits.

Should this measure be enacted into law?

Yes [ ] No [ ]

ARGUMENT FORARGUMENT AGAINST

TOXIC RADIOACTIVE WASTE AT THE HANFORD NUCLEAR RESERVATION IS A DANGEROUS THREAT

Over a million gallons of toxic radioactive waste have leaked from Hanford’s High-Level Nuclear Waste tanks. Contamination is spreading toward the Columbia River.

The federal Department of Energy wants to avoid cleaning up this contamination, while using Washington as a national radioactive waste dump. Their plan doubles the radioactive waste dumped at Hanford.

I-297 ends the dumping of waste directly into the ground in unlined soil trenches and requires cleanup before more waste can be trucked into Hanford. I-297 requires cleanup before adding more waste from other nuclear weapons plants.

CLEAN UP CONTAMINATION FIRST. DON’T ADD TO THE PROBLEM.

High-Level Nuclear Waste has leaked from 68 of Hanford’s 177 aging underground tanks. Instead of emptying the tanks and cleaning up contamination, the Energy Department wants to leave the radioactive sludge and avoid cleanup.

Without I-297, the Energy Department will add more radioactive waste to Hanford — exposing our families to 70,000 truckloads driven through our communities along I-90, I-405 and I-5.

NEWSPAPER EDITORIALS ACROSS WASHINGTON HAVE CRITICIZED THE ENERGY DEPARTMENT’S PLANS AT HANFORD

  • “...Tank waste at Hanford threatens to pollute the Columbia River. ...[Energy] needs to clean up nuclear waste fully, not evade public accountability.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer

  • “...[Energy] hatched a plan to transport radioactive waste from around the country and dump it into what might as well be called the Great Columbia River Landfill.” —Spokane Spokesman-Review

  • “...The department simply cannot be trusted to act in the interest of Washington and its environment.” —Tacoma News-Tribune

VOTE YES ON I-297: HOLD THE FEDERAL ENERGY DEPARTMENT ACCOUNTAB

I-297 is not about health and safety. It does not protect the average citizen in any way. Its design will enrich the attorney/special-interest industry.

I-297 is a mechanism to provide funding for certain non- technical groups to “advise” the State on scientific waste issues for decades to come.

I-297 adds to the heavy burden of business-hostile tax and regulations in this state.

If implemented, this short-sighted law would:

  • Adversely impact nuclear medicine and patients in Washington and elsewhere;

  • Diminish, and possibly eliminate, the jobs of experienced working men and women who now safely handle and treat the materials of concern;

  • Add no more authority to the State than it already has in existing law; and

  • Probably destroy the agreements we currently have with other states for them to accept wastes from Washington.

The handling of hazardous materials is an important matter not merely to voters in Washington, but to all Americans. The current compacts and management practices have been carefully negotiated and codified to protect all members of the public. These reciprocal agreements are working properly. If Washington rejects or complicates legally permitted shipments from other states, why would those other states continue to accept materials from us? And we are, right now, shipping to other states’ repositories, just as our planned programs intended. We can not possibly “clean up existing contamination” in Washington otherwise.

The initiative is misleading in its title. Statements of belief are represented as fact.

I-297 would make a bad, unnecessary law.

REBUTTAL OF ARGUMENT AGAINSTREBUTTAL OF ARGUMENT FOR

Enough is enough. The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is already the most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere. Millions of gallons of leaking toxic radioactive waste threaten the Columbia River. It’s time for government accountability. It’s time to clean up this dangerous mess before trucking in more radioactive waste. Other states have adopted standards that require cleanup before new dumping. Washington can too. I-297 protects jobs and costs no new taxes. Vote yes on I-297.

The support statement is as misleading as much of the initiative itself. Proponents infer that:

  • Any wastes entering this state would have the same form and same level of hazard as liquid generated 50 years ago. Untrue.

  • Cleanup projects won’t continue or have adequate safeguards without I-297. Untrue.

  • Newspaper editorial opionion alone is a good basis for credible decisions. Untrue.

Your taxes already buy ample State protection. I-297 adds nothing. Vote no.

ARGUMENT PREPARED BYARGUMENT PREPARED BY
PEGGY SAARI, First Vice President, League of Women Voters - Washington; ADAM SMITH, U.S. Representative, 9th Congressional District, Armed Services Committee; LISA BROWN, Ph.D., State Senator, Democrat, Spokane, Senate Minority Leader; TOBY NIXON, State Representative, Republican, Kirkland, Republican Caucus Vice-Chair; PETER McGOUGH, M.D., former President, Washington State Medical Association; GERALD POLLET, J.D., Heart of America Northwest, Chair - Protect Washington.MICHAEL R. FOX, Ph.D., Co-chair, science and technology consultant; WANDA MUNN, Co-chair, engineer; SHIRLEY HANKINS, State Representative, 8th Legislative District; JEROME DELVIN, State Senator, 8th Legislative District; LEROY KORB, M.D., physician; SID MORRISON, orchardist.

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