The first thing to build at the Parks Township nuclear waste dump site is a memorial to the Kiski Valley Coalition to Save our Children ( “Amount of nuclear waste in Parks Township could remain unknown until 2031” ).
This group of local citizens prevented Babcock & Wilcox from building a nuclear garbage incinerator at the site.
We took on the company’s legal and technical staffs, which were bolstered by counterparts at the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Protection. These agencies, established to protect the public, were solidly backed by B&W. In fact, several members of the NRC staff were former NUMEC employees.
In addition, B&W had the support of elected officials. The only politician who supported our efforts was state Rep. Joe Petrarca.
Our breakthrough came when I found a provision in the Clean Air Act allowing local governments to establish more stringent air-quality standards than the federal government.
Our attorney prepared an ordinance based on tighter standards. Parks Township residents voted 80 percent in favor of this ballot referendum.
This was crucial to the cleanup because, as long as a viable operation existed, the company was not required to decommission the site.
The cleanup is slated for completion in 2031, 14 years hence. By that time, the remaining members of the coalition will have passed on. Without a memorial, no one will be aware of the efforts of this small group that saved the Kiski Valley from further nuclear contamination.
The writer was chairman of the Kiski Valley Coalition to Save Our Children.