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Local 791 Brings
Public Attention
To Nuclear Waste
Transport Issue


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 and Toledo.


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

Home -> UE News -> 2000 Archives -> Article

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