Local 791 Brings
To Nuclear Waste
Wasting no time, UE Local 791 took action this month on the
resolution "Keep Highly Radioactive Waste off
Our Highways and Railways" adopted by the UE Convention. Local 791
represents toll collectors and maintenance workers on the Ohio Turnpike.
The UE local joined with environmental and safety activists to
warn that turnpike workers could be vulnerable to cancer-causing radiation if
the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is allowed to ship spent fuel from nuclear
plant reactors through northwest Ohio en route to Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.
The Energy Dept. is expected next year to recommend Yucca
Mountain, 100 miles from Las Vegas and some 2,000 miles from Toledo, as the
disposal site for all of the nation’s commercially produced reactor waste.
The project will take some 40 years to complete — for nearly
four decades, tons of spent fuel from nuclear plant reactors in Ohio,
Pennsylvania and the Northeast would be shipped through northern Ohio. Routes
are not scheduled to be finalized until at least 2006, four years before the
2010 target year for initiating the project.
UE is working with Public
Citizen, a national watchdog group founded by consumer advocate Ralph
Nader. During the first week of October, Local 791 sponsored and
participated in public events. Lisa Gue, a policy analyst with Public
Citizen, spoke at public forums the union sponsored in Cleveland, Youngstown
In addition, UE participated with Gue and others in press
conferences on this issue in Cleveland and Toledo. The Oct. 3 Cleveland press
conference in front of the Federal Building, featured Cleveland Mayor Michael
White, Zone 3 Chief Steward Shawne Wise, UE Field Org. Al Hart,
Chris Trepal of the Earth Day Coalition and Margaux Shields of
Ohio Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
Lisa Gue displayed for the media a 25-foot inflatable model of
the containers, or casks, that would carry the radioactive waste on the back
of flatbed trucks, under DOE plans. These casks have never been physically
tested to see how they would stand up in a crash or other critical situations,
and a rupture of one of the casks would have catastrophic consequences.
Mayor White expressed grave concerns about hauling nuclear
waste through Cleveland on I-90, which is part of the DOE’s plan to move
radioactive waste from the Perry power plant in Painesville and from nuclear
plants in upstate New York and New England. He blasted the Federal government
for even considering such a dangerous plan.
On Friday, October 6 a Toledo press conference featured UE
District Seven Pres. Joyce Clayborne, Al Hart, Sarah Ogdahl from
Ohio Public Citizen, and Lisa Gue. The union’s concerns received major TV
and newspaper coverage in Toledo.
While in Youngstown on Oct. 4, Gue and then-local president Mark
Cleland were featured on a radio talk show and a cable TV public affairs
show. She also met with officials of the Turnpike Commission, which agrees
with the union in opposing radioactive waste shipments. Along with Chief
Steward Shawne Wise and Hart, Gue met with Deputy Executive Director Bob
Arlow, General Counsel Tom Amato, and Safety Director Dick Lash
at the Ohio Turnpike Commission Administration Building.
UE News - 10/00