Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Announces Approval of Bill Authorizing Risk Assessment of Proposed Nuclear Waste Transport across the Peace Bridge

News from the Office of U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted February 2nd, 2017 on Niagara At Large

The Peace Bridge crossing the upper Niagara River between Fort Erie in Niagara, Ontario and Buffalo, New York. File photo by Doug Draper

The Peace Bridge crossing the upper Niagara River between Fort Erie in Niagara, Ontario and Buffalo, New York. File photo by Doug Draper

(A Brief Foreword Note from NAL publisher Doug Draper – A number of parties on the Ontario side of the Niagara River and Peace Bridge, including the Niagara District Council of Women which has been very active on this issue, have continued to express opposition to plans to ship highly toxic shipments of radioactive waste through the Niagara region and Niagara/Buffalo border. On the U.S. side, Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins has been making a full environmental review of these shipments one of his priorities.)

Buffalo, New York – U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced (this February 1st, 2017) that the House of Representatives has approved H.R. 677 the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2017. 

The bill, introduced by Rep. Martha McSally, includes language included by Rep. Higgins requiring the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a risk assessment prior to the transport of nuclear materials, including the Department of Energy’s (DOE) planned transport of highly enriched liquid nuclear uranium across the Peace Bridge.  A similar bill was approved last session but was not considered in the Senate.

U.S. Confressman Brian Higgins representing a district in the Buffalo/Western New York area, has bee watchdogging a proposal to ship highly radioactive wastes across the border.

U.S. Confressman Brian Higgins representing a district in the Buffalo/Western New York area, has bee watchdogging a proposal to ship highly radioactive wastes across the border.

 Approval of the legislation comes as a ruling on a related court case is imminent.  Last summer a coalition of organizations filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy seeking judgement related to the requirement of an Environmental Impact Statement prior to authorization of the shipment of highly enriched liquid nuclear waste.  As a result the court directed and parties on both sides agreed no shipments would take place prior to a decision which is expected on or before February 15, 2017.  

“We continue to fight for appropriate environmental and safety assessments as the Department of Energy plans, for the first time, to move this hazardous material through our community,” said Higgins, who has repeatedly expressed concern and taken action following the DOE’s announcement that it will proceed with the transport of waste from the Chalk River Research reactor in Ontario over the Peace Bridge, through Western New York and other states en route to the Savannah River site without conducting a full environmental review. 

A summary of some of Congressman Higgins’ actions on this issue is below:

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders




3 responses to “Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Announces Approval of Bill Authorizing Risk Assessment of Proposed Nuclear Waste Transport across the Peace Bridge

  1. Recently Governor Cuomo decision to shut down the last remaining nuclear power generating station in New York State and buy low cost Hydro power from Quebec was heralded as a gigantic step towards a Green State.
    This Ontario Corporate Liberal Government is reluctant to follow in the footsteps of New York State and has decided,against the advice of experts, to spends $Billions of Taxpayers Dollars in refurbishing the very aged Pickering Nuclear Station even though it is surrounded by millions of Ontario Citizen…If I might Question this Governments decision: Why the hell have we not been buying Hydro power from Quebec and shut down the derelict Nuclear Generating Stations in Ontario?????


  2. Wasn’t the plan with these shipments to Not label them for security reasons?

    If there’s a motor vehicle accident or fire, won’t first responders, adjacent travellers and neighbouring properties be exposed to spilled radioactivity?

    On the other hand, let’s Not be hypocrites since Nuclear power is crucial to our modern lives:
    – 61% of our electricity comes from Pickering, Bruce & Darlington Nuclear generators
    – we all benefit from the radioactive isotopes produced at Chalk River.

    After 70 years, ‘they’ stilll don’t have a way to treat and store Nuclear waste products.

    How to solve this quandary?


  3. Opposition to Highly Radioactive Liquid Shipments Continues
    For Immediate Release February 3 2017

    In spite of a disappointing ruling by a US Judge on Thursday afternoon, February 2, public opposition remains to an unprecedented plan to ship 23,000 litres (6000 gallons) of intensely radioactive liquid from Chalk River, Ontario, to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina – a distance of over 2000 kilometres. The liquid is an acidic solution of dozens of extremely radiotoxic materials such as cesium-137, strontium-90, and plutonium-239.

    The first armed convoy, in a series of 100-150 truckloads over a period of four years, had been put on hold pending the outcome of a legal challenge in US federal court. Plaintiffs had urged the court to either suspend the shipments, or to require a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement in compliance with US environmental law (NEPA), because such highly radioactive material has never before been transported over public roads in liquid form.

    But on February 2 the court ruled against the Plaintiffs, deferring to the Department of Energy’s 2013 and 2015 claims that the transport of this dangerous waste in liquid form poses no more dangers than hauling it in solid form. So now, these unprecedented highly radioactive liquid waste shipments have been judged to have no legal obstacles, even without an EIS. Consequences of a spill and discussion of alternatives will not be available for scrutiny by the public or other agencies as a result of the ruling.

    The suit was brought by seven US organizations: Beyond Nuclear, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Savannah River Site Watch, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Lone Tree Council, Sierra Club and Environmentalists, Inc. Dozens of other organizations on both sides of the border support the plaintiffs in their opposition. All these groups will continue to challenge the plan to transport such dangerous liquid over public roads and bridges – a feat never before attempted, and one they consider to be entirely unnecessary as there are safer alternatives.

    Tom Clements, director of Savannah River Site Watch in South Carolina, said “Citizens here don’t want to be a dumping ground for Canada’s nuclear waste. Last year, Indonesia demonstrated a method called ‘down-blending’, carried out with DOE approval, that eradicates any need for shipping highly radioactive liquid. The same technique can be utilized at Chalk River. Down-blending and solidifying the waste in Canada would be cheaper, faster and safer than moving this dangerous liquid cargo through dozens of communities, then processing and dumping it into aging waste tanks at SRS.”

    Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., a mathematician with the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, and Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D., a physicist with the US-based Nuclear Waste Management Associates, both filed technical declarations in support of the lawsuit.
    Dr. Edwards’ declaration based on published data from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the US Environmental Protection Agency, showed that the toxicity of a few ounces of the Chalk River liquid would ruin an entire city’s water supply. “This liquid is among the most radiotoxic materials on earth,” said Dr. Edwards.

    Dr. Resnikoff’s statement pointed out that a severe sideways impact of the transport cask, or a prolonged diesel fire causing boiling of the liquid and over-pressure rupture of the containers, could spill the liquid contents into the environment. “The consequences of such realistic accident scenarios have not been adequately assessed,” said Dr. Resnikoff, adding that the containers have never been tested physically under such realistic conditions. The Judge disallowed the two expert declarations.

    Mary Olson, one of the plaintiffs in the law suit, said “Even without any leakage of the contents, people will be exposed to penetrating gamma radiation and damaging neutron radiation just by sitting in traffic beside one of these transport trucks. And because the liquid contains weapons-grade uranium there is an ever-present possibility of a spontaneous chain reaction giving off a powerful blast of life-threatening neutrons in all directions – a so-called “criticality” accident.”

    For further information:
    Gordon Edwards, CCNR, (514) 839-7214
    Mary Olson, NIRS, (828) 242-5621
    Tom Clements, SRSW, (803) 834-3084
    Marvin Resnikoff, RWMA, (917) 549-8231
    Terry J. Lodge, plaintiffs’ co-counsel, (419) 205-7084
    Link to pdf version of this media release:


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