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2-6 Letters to the Tribune

By Staff | Feb 5, 2016

Stop Nuclear Waste from Coming Here

I am writing this letter to express my concerns over the consideration of deep borehole research here in Pierce County or anywhere for that matter in North Dakota. Up until now the biggest thing I was worried about in 2016 was the Farm Economy. I think the problem we have in front of us is much bigger than that.

When I first learned about the proposed exploratory drilling I was suspicious of the intent. According to the project coordinators “This is an important step to increasing our scientific understanding of the potential uses for crystalline rock formations “including the feasibility of boreholes as an option for long-term nuclear waste disposal” The words potential and option cast the first shadow of doubt as to the true intent. When I discovered that the potential sight is no more than 2 miles away from my farm, the real worry began. I contacted Jon Nelson and was then sent a copy of the presentation that was given last week to the State Land Board meeting. After reviewing it the questions continued to mount “Alternative for disposal”, “proof of concept” Who would spend 80 million dollars exploring a concept without having intentions of utilizing the sight for more than that? Yes, $80 million per the EERC presentation, not $35 million as was first reported. I was happy to learn that two of our commissioners were in attendance. I then sent an e-mail to the Surface Division Manager of the ND Department of Trust Lands and I ended my message to him saying “Please stop this nonsense and preserve the safety of the people and land that put food on your table every night.” The response I received after the meeting was that “there was no action taken by the Board regarding this project. The EERC was directed to seek local input”.

That is why I am writing this letter.

Everyone that I have visited with in Rugby might have glanced over the first article in the Tribune or heard about it in passing. Since last Thursday the concern over the project has been mounting. There have been both TV and newspaper articles regarding the subject. We have even heard comments from the ND Attorney General in opposition to the idea of nuclear waste dumping.

I still think that the whole story is not coming out. An article in the Columbus Dispatch on Jan. 24th of 2016 quoted Rodney Osbourne, the manager of Battelle’s energy business line (the company that was selected to do the test drilling). He says “it would take about two years to collect enough data to know whether the North Dakota site is viable”. Viable for what? Even prior to that on January 7th, in the Tri-City Herald of Hanford Washington (Coincidentally Hanford is the location of the Manhattan Project and considered America’s most contaminated nuclear site) the US Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz stated that the (HANFORD CAPSULES) could be very-well suited perhaps for much earlier disposal through a borehole approach. Utterly Shocking!

In January of 2013 the DOE released its “Strategy for the Management and Disposal of used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste”. In its content it discusses the international consensus that geological repositories represent the best known method for permanently disposing of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. It recommends the development of one or more permanent deep geological facilities for disposal. ONE or More! The US department of Energy’s Press release on Jan. 5th states “Scientists have identified many regions across the US that have large geologically stable rock formations similar to Rugby”. Are there any other exploratory bore holes being considered across the country? Why did they choose Pierce County? Do they consider us expendable? Deep storage is being sold as currently the most cost-effective way of permanently disposing of used nuclear fuel and waste. The administration agrees and has called for a permanent geological waste repository by 2048. Can you imagine taking in all of the nation’s nuclear waste and having it packaged, transported and stored by the governments lowest bidder.

The strategy from the DOE outlines a “consent-based siting process”. This means that communities are supposed to have the right to adopt the strategy at their own free will. It sure doesn’t feel like that has happened here. It feels like the drilling process was going to be disguised as a science experiment and the project was just going to be railroaded into our community.

It has already been stated by officials that legislation has not been passed that would allow this type of storage. Why would we be “experimenting with it if it wasn’t even legal?” Here’s why. In 1987 Congress passed an amendment to the original Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 and overrode the Governor of Nevada’s rejection of nuclear waste deposition and declared Yucca Mountain as the site for the nation’s nuclear waste dump. The 2012 Blue Ribbon Commissions final report recommended amending the 1987 amendment to the original 1982 act and allow locations to store waste other than Yucca Mountain. If the intent was to approve the process and then try to pass a bill, isn’t that putting the cart in front of the horse? Do they want to approve the methodology so it is easier to change the law?

When the EERC commented that there is no Plan B, is that because they think that ND has such a low level of national political clout that we would not be able to fight off their choke hold? If crystalline rock formations are found throughout the nation and this is just a science experiment to the EERC, why don’t they do it their own backyard? Can you believe an organization from our own state recommended testing here?

Radioactive waste can take hundreds of thousands of years to decay. This state is a little over 125 years old. If we buried all of the nation’s current waste in one location with packaging that hasn’t even been around a fraction of that time, how long can you expect us to be around? The hill where this exploration would take place is in the Sheyenne River Watershed. You think our Northern neighbors complained about Devils Lake Water!? What about radioactive contaminated water when a leak occurs?

I can’t imagine what my Great Grandfather would be thinking right now. To have immigrated to this country and this state only to have the ground that he worked and was buried in to be contaminated with nuclear waste. Preserving the lives of our own descendants is what we are going to be evaluated on. Did we do everything we could to prevent this great state from becoming a dumping ground for the rest of the nation’s nuclear and radioactive waste?

I am very happy that the county commissioners took the first step and unanimously passed a temporary Moratorium prohibiting the development of deep bore drilling in Pierce County. This should be a wakeup call to those who want to peruse it. But we need to do more.

I plead with you as a father, a farmer and a proud citizen of this county and state to do everything you can to block this experimentation in all of our back yards. The EERC will be presenting to our County Commissioners during a public meeting on February 16th at 9:30 at Dakota farms. I would like everyone who can to come and listen the EERC proposal and tell them we don’t want what you’re selling!!

Sincerely,

Chuck Volk

City Should Study Natural Gas Possibility

It appears that once again, our community has the opportunity to study and review the possibility to add the availability of natural gas to our infrastructure. If we should be so fortunate as to find that feasible and affordable, that could be a huge advantage to our citizens and business community and to the local Job Authority in their efforts to maintain and develop our business sector.

At this time, I cannot say whether or not this can be accomplished. However, I think it is of great enough importance to our citizens and business sector, that we ask our Mayor and each and all our City Councilmen to aggressively research this possibility in an open and unbiased manner. Also, it is important that we as citizens visit with our councilmen and keep abreast of any and all information, as the final decision should come from our entire citizenship. We should insist that we be kept up to date and informed on this important matter.

We will also need to determine how many of us homeowners and business owners will be interested in adding natural gas to our homes or business should it become available. To make that decision, we will need the cost estimates. I know from using natural gas to heat a house my wife and I have, the savings in heating costs can be substantial.

It is the responsibility of our Job Authority to maintain and develop our business sector. I know from experience during the years as the Rugby Mayor, City Councilman and member of the Job Authority that this is a difficult and challenging job. As a relatively small community such as ours, we need every incentive that we can put together to attract potential business and industry to our City and community. Available natural gas would be a huge addition to our portfolio.

Not all potential business and industry require natural gas some do some don’t. However, to have it available would be an effective incentive. I am sure it was in 1996 that our Job Authority was courting a Food Processing company to locate in our Industrial Park. They appeared as a good company and our due diligence on them was attractive. They showed good interest until they found that we did not have natural gas. They immediately withdrew their interest in us, and ended up locating in Nebraska in a city with natural gas. Just an example.

I think the addition of available natural gas to Rugby would be a very positive step forward for us. However, it needs to prove feasible and affordable for the entire community, and we all need to put our best efforts out to determine these answers.

Curt Teigen

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