The Rapid City Journal; April 16, 1983
Nancy J. Winkley
Medill News Service
WASHINGTON - Russ Daniels wasn't sure how he felt about a nuclear waste disposal plant proposed at Edgemont, only 25 miles from his home in Hot Springs. To enlighten himself and other South Dakotans, Daniels a 58-year-old Baptist minister, set our across the country on a personal "fact-finding mission."
Accompanied by his son-in-law, Ray Lautenschlager, an Ardmore, S.D., rancher, Daniels would up his trip in Washington this week where he met with South Dakota's congressional delegation and queried officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
On his way to Washington, he had visited the low-level nuclear waste disposal site at Barnwell, S.C., one of only three state-licensed commercial dumping rounds in the country.
"We're trying to turn over all the rocks we can," said Daniels, who until his research is completed, won't say whether he's for or against the disposal site proposed near his home. He said he plans to write a report on his findings when he returns to South Dakota.
Some low-level wastes have considerably less radioactivity than the high-level spent fuels taken directly from nuclear reactors, said John Kopeck, a spokesman for the NRC. Low-level wastes include clothing items worn by workers in nuclear power plants, hospital clothing and instruments used in chemotherapy treatment and nuclear research laboratory materials.
But "low-level" wastes also can include some highly radioactive materials. The main difference between high and low level wastes is the number of years a material will remain radioactive, not the intensity of the radiation.
Kopeck said low-level wastes are stored in 55-gallon steel drums and buried at least six feet underground.
South Dakota officials haven't officially said whether they'll allow disposal of such materials in South Dakota. Chem Nuclear Systems Inc., has proposed the dump site at Igloo but has not officially applied for a permit.
Many Edgemont residents supported the proposal to build a waste dumping site area because it would create industry and boost the city's ecomony. "A lot of money has been invested to create a positive attitude about the Edgemont project," Daniels said.
South Dakota also must decide whether to join a nulti-state radioactive waste disposal group. A 1980 federal law aimed at spreading the country's low-level nuclear waste disposal burden evenly among the states encourages states to enter into regional agreements for that purpose, although it still allows them to handle nuclear waste disposal on their own if they choose.
South Dakota Gov. Bill Janklow introduced a bill in the Legislature this year calling for the state to join the Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact, one of the groups. The bill was killed in a House committee. Legislators are expected to study the question this summer.
Daniels said he hopes the information gathered on his fact-finding tour assists him and others in debating the issue openly and knowledgeably.
"We came on the trip with an unbiased opinion," Daniels said. "We're just trying to find out where South Dakota would be if we invited the (nuclear) industry in."
The Rapid City Journal; April 29, 1983
(Two photos) Ray Lautenschlager (left photo) of Ardmore collected a stack of information on low level nuclear dump sites from his trip. Right, Rev. Russ Daniels of Hot Springs (Staff phots by Bob Imrie)
ARDMORE - Ray Lautenschlager isn't worried about himself so much as his sons.
It's their generation, says the 28-year-old organic farmer, that will end up paying the price if a low-level nuclear dump is allowed to open without proper safeguards at Igloo, a few miles away from the Lautenschlager farm home.
He says the proposed dump site near Igloo won't be as safe as promoters in Edgemont and the developers, Chem Nuclear of Bellevue, Wash., claim. And the risks it could pose aren't worth the dollars it might generate for the community.
Lautenschlager and his father-in-law, the Rev. Russ Daniels, 53, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Hot Springs were skeptical even when the idea first surfaced last December. And, after a recent fact-finding trip that included a first-hand look at Chem Nuclear's Barnwell, S.C., dump site, they're even more fearful.
They are convinced South Dakota must tighten its regulations to guarantee total safety from radiation for future generations.
"Basically, we didn't find anyone (in Barnwell) outside the industry who had a positive attitude about it," Lautenschlager said "The best we could come up with was mixed emotions. Most of the attitudes were, 'I wish it were someplace else.' They didn't fell confident about it. They worry about what could happen."
Daniels added, "The overall picture looks worse now then before we went. We found out that everybody in Barnwell doesn't benefit. The farmers gain zero. They lose.
"If they go ahead with the dump (in Igloo) and I don't like it, I will move," Daniels said. "It's as simple as that for me. I have seen what radioactivity can do. Another thing, I don't like the looks of a nuclear county. It doesn't look healthy, if Barnwell is typical."
Although Lautenschlager and Daniels are among the first to challenge plans to put the dump site in South Dakota, they say they aren't anti-nuclear.
But Edgemont banker Don Hanson, spokesman for the Edgemont Development Corp., the local group promoting the idea, thinks otherwise.
"They seem to have talked to different people than we talked to," Hanson said. "You hear what you want to hear. I don't doubt you could get a different story."
Hanson said he trusts agencies like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to ensure that safeguards are adequate. "I tend to trust government people. If we don't, what kind of country are we going to have?"
In, December, at Edgemont's invitation, Chem Nuclear surveyed about 7,000 acres of land at the Army's former Black Hills Ordnance Depot at Igloo for a low level dump site.
This week, the company Nuclear signed an option to buy 5,000 acres of private land for the dump, Hanson said. It will conduct drilling tests and soil studies to determine if the land is suitable. Required environmental impact statements will take more than two years to complete.
Lautenschlager, Daniels and their families combined a fact-finding trip with a vacation. In addition to touring the Barnwell site and visiting with NRC officials in Washington they surveyed people in three states.
They heard that Chem Nuclear's record is not spotless.
"There's a reason people down there are distrustful of Chem Nuclear because a lot of accusations have been made and they believe them," Lautenschlager said. "Just because Chem Nuclear said there isn't going to be any problems, that doesn't make the people any more comfortable about it."
The men were told some 55-gallon drums of liquid wastes are buried at Barnwell within 20 feet of the water table. (Dump supporters have said no liquids would be buried at Igloo).
At Barnwell, the wastes are buried in trenches lined with clay. (Chem Nuclear proposes to do the same at Igloo.) People worry, Lautenschlager said, whether the clay will hold the contaminats if the barrels rust and cause leaks.
Daniels said the Barnwell dump seems to be a Chem Nuclear experiment. "They are experimenting with the wastes - trying the clay cap to see if it will shed water."
Some of the men's strongest criticisms are leveled at the agencies assigned to regulate the industry.
It was difficult to distinquish a state inspector from the industry's men, they said. Once, while a highly radioactive control rod was being buried, a health physicist who was assigned to monitor the radiation level was nonchalantly talking to a group of people away from the unloading, Daniels said. "That didn't look good."
Generally, the men said, Chem Nuclear appears to be following NRC regulations. But they don't think those regulations are stringent enough.
When they talked to the NRC about problems, the government officials were "very defensive" of the industry, Daniels said.
"If Barwell has received a lot of money, it doesn't show," said Daniels. "It looks less than average. It's a dumpy town. I don't know if that relates to Chem Nuclear or not."
He and Lautenschlager intend to present information they gathered to a summer legislative committee that is studying the nuclear waste issue in South Dakota.
"I feel that if people in Edgemont would dig out the facts, there would be more people who would say, 'Wait a minute. Let's study some more." Lautenschlager said. "I see people who say, 'Who cares about future generations? Let's make a buck and let them worry about it later.' That definitely is not right."
The Rapid City Journal; May 2, 1983
The company that wants to establish a lot-level nuclear waste dump south of Edgemont has been cited for illegal disposal of toxic wastes in seven states in the last two years, the Black Hills Alliance charged Monday.
Spokesman Jan Stites said the alliance "doesn't believe that a company like Waste Management should be in South Dakota."
Waste Management Inc. is the parent company of Chem Nuclear Systems Inc. It is the country's largest handler of chemical wastes for private indusry and the Defense Department.
A billion-dollar public corporation with about 20 hazardous waste treatment sites in the U.S., Waste Management acquired Chem Nuclear last year. The acquisition has expanded it operations from solid and toxic waste disposal to include radioactive waste handling.
Chem Nuclear had a good environmental record before the acquisition. Ms. Stites said at a press conference Monday, but Waste Management's record was poor. "In the past two years alone, Waste Management has been cited for illegal toxic chemical disposal in seven different states. State officials in Pennsylvania, Kansas and Colorado were forced to shut down Waste Management dumps for leaking toxic chemicals," she said.
She noted, however, that the alliance would have opposed a dump run by Chem Nuclear even had it not been aquired by Waste Management. No radioactive disposal site in the country is safe, she said.
"We do not believe that the technology presently exists for a safe site," she said. "You've contaminated the groundwater by the time a leak is discovered. Once that starts to happen, there's no way to stop it."
Waste Management officials were evasive when asked why such a large site - 5,000 acres - was needed, she said. The alliance fears that the company ultimately may want the large site to dispose of military waste (a use presently not allowed for low-level nuclear waste dumps) and to consolidate all nuclear dumps sites in the country. There are only three such dumps in existence now, she said.
"The governor and Mr. Neufeld (Water and Natural Resources secretary Bob Neufeld) can approve a site for the state without legislative approval," she said. Such dumps also must be approved by the federal government.
Gov. William Janklow has previously said he's generally opposed to creating a low-level nuclear waste dump in the state, but needs more information about the operation before making a decision.
The Rapid City Journal; June 10, 1983
PIERRE - Legislators trying to decide what South Dakota should do about radioactive garbage aren't getting any help from Gov. Bill Janklow. He says he's already told them everything they need to know to make a desision.
But they say Janklow has told them very little and they're mostly in the dark on the issue. And at least one legislator - Republican Rep. Keith Paisley of Sioux Falls - thinks Janklow's real intent has been to set the state up as the site of a garbage dump for Eastern states.
"At this point, about all we've got is questions," Rep. George Mortimer said.
Mortimer chairs a sumer legislative committee studying whether the state should join a nuclear waste disposal compact that includes industrialized states to the east.
There were no representatives at the committee's first meeting in Pierre Thursday from the governor's office or the Department of Water and Natural Resources, which has been studying the issue for at least a year.
Although executive branch agencies routinely attend and participate in almost all legislative summer studies, Janklow said he doesn't want to "interfere" with the legislative branch on this study.
"We gave them our proposal (during the last legislative session)," Janklow aide Jim Soyer said, and lefislators killed it. "Now it's up to them."
Janklow introduced a bill this year that would have put South Dakota in the Midwestern States Compact, which eventually could include states that together produce one-fourth of the nation's radioactive garbage.
He told legislators then that state officials had investigated various compacts and decided the Midwestern offers South Dakota the most protection.
A House committee killed Janklow's bill, saying the question should be studied more thoroughly before a decision is made.
"Why would the governor submit a plan and present it in such a way that we were just to blindly accept it?" said Paisley. Janklow, he said, "looked on it as just a nothing issue; we were just supposed to approve it" and not ask questions.
"I think we should know why," Paisley said. "I think it was (Janklow's) intent that we do become involved" as the host state for a radioactive garbage dump.
Janklow said last summer he would not let the state become a dumping ground, after a state official reportedly told a meeting of Midwest Compact representatives the state may, in fact, ask to be the dump site for the economic benefits.
Since then, Edgemont residents have actively sought to get a dump site at the old Black Hills Ordnance Depot near Igloo.
Committee members said they first have to decide whether to join any compact, and, if so, which one. Several also said they're interested in a proposal to form a compact just with North Dakota.
Carol Oleson of Volga said the fact that South Dakota has what appears to be a technically good site near Edgemont means that, if it joins with states that produce a lot of waste, it eventuall would be forced to become a nuclear dump.
It also means other compacts will welcome the state as a member, so it can afford to wait and pick the best one, she said. The state could form a compact with North Dakota, which along with South Dakota produces very little radioactive garbage, and prevent dumping by states with lots of it, she told the committee.
Representatives of the South Dakota League of Women Voters objected to much of the specific language included in Janklow's bill calling for the state to join the Midwest Compact. They said compact language gives each state one vote on a commission that in turn has broad powers but little responsibility to correct problems that result from its decisions.
For example, League spokeswoman Linda Stensland said, the commission has the power to choose which state will host a dump site, but that state then would bear all the liability and expenses of the dump. And, she said, the commission could set dumping prices, preventing the host state from charging enough to pay for care and monitoring of a site for the hundreds of years it takes to decay to harmless levels.
Jeanne Koster of the South Dakota Resources Coalition said her group was "horrified" by Janklow's bill. she said nuclear dumps could contain highly radioactive materials that remain dangerous for thousands of years.
The federal government, she said, decides what kind of materials can be put in such dumps, and could change that at any time to allow more dangerous elements. And, she said, the Department of Defense could someday want to use the dumps to dispose of radioactive military garbage.
The study committee's next meeting is set for Sept. 9 in Sioux Falls to coincide with a League of Women Voters symposium on radioactive garbage. The committee also plans to hold a meeting in Rapid City later in September.
The Rapid City Journal; June 10, 1983
PIERRE (AP) - State legislator George Mortimer says other Midwestern states shouldn't assume that South Dakota will volunteer to establish a dump site that would store their low-level muclear wastes.
"If you think we're going to just open our arms to all the waste from the other states, you're just looking up the wrong tube," Mortimer said Thursday in a phone conference with lawmakers from states that might form a waste disposal compact.
The telephone conference was held during a meeting of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, which is studying whether South Dakota should join other states to find a regional low-level nuclear dump site.
Lawmakers from other states said they had heard South Dakota might be interested in establishing a disposal site for low-level radioactive waste. But Mortimer said the state isn't committed to setting up a nuclear waste dump.
Congress has given states until January 1986 to form interstate compacts for disposal of low-level nuclear waste or to make other disposal arrangements.
Gary Sanborn, an official of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said either Congress or the courts will have to decide if a state could be forced to accept waste from other states if it doesn't join a compact.
Meanwhile, representatives of environmental groups said that even though low-level wastes have less radioactivity than spent fuel taken from nuclear reactors, some waste classified as low-level is still highly radioactive.
"This low-level waste does in fact include a lot of very radioactive material," said Jim MacInnes of Rapid City, representing the Sierra Club. "It's not as harmless as it may seem."
Low-level waste dumps can accept highly radioactive materials that decay quickly to the point where it gives off lower radiation levels. The dumps also can accept a highly radioactive material that is diluted so it's not very concentrated.
MacInnes and other speakers at Thursday's meeting also said they fear that a state with a regional dump couldn't collect enough money from other states to pay for the cost of maintaining the site for several hundred years to prevent radioactive pollution.
In addition, a traffic accident could eventually spill some of the radioactive material being trucked to any dump site, said Linda Stensland of Sioux Falls, representing the League of Women Voters.
The Rapid City Journal; June 22, 1983
HOT SPRINGS (AP) - Chem Nuclear Systems Inc. of Bellevue, Wash., is drilling test holes at Igloo to see if an abandoned Army munitions depot is suitable for a low-level radioactive waste dump.
"The preliminary drilling is to test the hydrology and geology of the Igloo site to determine if it has merit," said Lloyd Andrews, a spokesman for Chem Nuclear. "If it does have merit, then of course we'll want to go into a full-phased evaluation of the ground."
Andrews said the firm plans to drill three or four holes, the deepest 200-300 feet and the others 50-100 feet.
Andrews said the test will cost about $20,000, and the company hopes to have the results in 40 days. Late this summer or early this fall, the test findings will be compared with regulations established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Federal regulations also require Chem Nuclear to select three other sites in South Dakota for testing so the results can be compared with the Igloo site.
Andrews said the other sites have not been chosen, but he said the company will avoid populated areas and locations with obviously poor geological conditions.
The study of all sites will take 18 months.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, FL; Oct. 14, 1984
Associated Press Writer
(Staff Art / Lew Agrell) For years the key industry in Edgemont, S.D., was a uranium mine, so local residents know all about the potential hazards of radioactive material. Now comes a propsal to build a dump neaby that could handle one-third of the nation's low-level nuclear waste.
EDGEMONT, S.D. - Waitresses at the Hillsview Cafe wear red T-shirts with white letters that ask "Why Not Edgemont?" That's the rallying slogan of local residents who figure a nuclear dump could be the salvation of this former uranium mining town.
Hundreds of the shirts and matching buttons have been sold. But the dump, which backers say would handle one-third of the nation's low-level nuclear waste each year, has its foes. The showdown comes in the November election.
When rancher Howard Henderson looks at the proposed site a few miles from his 9,000-acre spread, he sees a threat to the life he has built in the rolling grasslands of southwestern South Dakota.
If the waste disposal site is built and ever leaks, he fears, radioactive pollution could contaminate local wells and maybe even spread into other states.
"I don't think they can prove it would be safe," Henderson said. "Out here, all we've got is what little water we've got, and if we lose that, we haven't got anything."
But business leaders and others in Edgemont say the proposed dump at an abandoned U.S. Army munitions dump eight miles to the south could bring about 100 jobs to the area, a substantial economic boost for the town of nearly 1,500.
"We need jobs around this part of the country," says Diana Ogden, one of the waitresses at the Hillsview Cafe who came up with the idea of wearing the T-shirts to work.
Edgemont realty agent Harold Wyatt says, "The people of Edgemont and Fall River County are no less caring than people anywhere else. We love our clean air and claean water and our lifestyle. We wouldn't trade any of those for dollars."
Wyatt is president of the Chamber of Commerce and heads the Edgemont Development Committee, which has invited Chem-Nuclear Systems Inc. of Columbia, S. C., to build the dump at the Igloo depot.
Located at the southern end of the Black Hills, where pine-covered hills taper to the prairie, Igloo is now home to cattle and sheep that graze near crumbling abandoned buildingts and military barracks. Farmers raise hogs in the rows of concrete bunkers where bombs once were stored.
Chem-Nuclear officials are seeking permission to build a dump they say could store up to one-third of the nation's low-level nuclear waste each year if geological tests show the Igloo site would be safe. A study financed by Chem-Nuclear estimated the dump would bring $16 million a year in taxes and other income to South Dakota for the next 50 years.
However, a coalition of South Dakota groups concerned about the environment is campaigning to prevent creation of the dump without voter approval.
If a statewide initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot is passed, it would require voter approval before South Dakota could allow a dump site in the state or join a nuclear waste disposal compact with other states.
In a June 5 non-binding local referendum, two-thirds of the voters in Fall River County favored building the nuclear dump at Igloo. Supporters hope the referendum results will convince voters in the rest of the state to defeat the initiative in November.
Passage of the inititive would not kill the proposed Igloo dump, but it would hinder and delay approval of the site, Wyatt said. Decisions on the dump should be made by the Legisiature and state and federal officials, he said.
If the initiative is voted down, the Legislature and state agencies would have the final say on which nuclear-waste-disposal compact the state would join, and state officials would retain the authority to decide if the dump could be located in South Dakota. In any event, it will be a year or two before Chem-Nuclear can complete the geological testing and make its way through the licensing reqiurements of the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
"We fail to see why the people in Watertown, Brookings, Sioux Falls or any other area in the eastern part of the state should have the power to determine what kind of industry we can attract here in the southwestern corner of the state," Wyatt says.
But Nick Meinhardt, coordinator for the Nuclear Waste Vote Coalition, says the entire state has a big stake in the Edgemont dump decision.
Radioactive waste would be transported across South Dakota to the proposed dump, and taxpayers would have to foot the bill if the waste site ever leaked and had to be cleaned up, Meinhardt says.
Before the taxpayers are put at risk financially and potentially health-wise, it seems to us that it's only right that people ought to have a say in such a toxic decision as this," Meinhardt says.
The low-level nuclear waste that would be buried at Igloo would come from hospitals, industries and some items exposed to radiation at nuclear power plants.
Chem-Nuclear officials argue that the Igloo site appears to be perfectly suited for a waste dump because the water aquifers are 850 feet, 1,200 feet and 3,500 feet below ground. A thick layer of shale would prevent radioactive material from ever getting into the water, they contend.
Artesian pressure that forces the underground water upward also would make it virtually impossible for any contaminated water to find its way into the underground aquifers, says Chris Korpi of Rapid City, a geologist with Chem-Nuclear.
Henderson says he and other ranchers get their water from wells shallower than 50 feet. Korpi says Henderson's artesian spring could never be harmed by the waste dump, but Henderson isn't convinced.
"I claim that if they can guarantee that it won't leak, they've got to put it in writing." Henderson says, "If they won't put it in writing, they must know that it's going to leak."
Korpi says the site's federal license, which would be granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission only after all tests are complete, would be Chem-Nuclear's written guarantee. Bonds, perpetual funds, and insurance would all be set up before the dump opened to make sure any claenup costs would be covered, he says.
"I have no fears about it," Leonard Faiman, a state highway worker from Edgemont. "I think much of the anti-nuke stuff is a bunch of hype."
"We've got all sorts of problems with our schools. We have no hospital. I think the business would be good for the town."
As head of the Chamber of Commerce, Wyatt sees the need for more business activity in the town. Edgemont is supported by the railroad, ranches and a factory that makes bowls and other items out of wood, but more is needed, he says.
The Tri-City Herald, WA; Oct. 14, 1984
Associated Press Writer
(associated press photo) Igloo, an abandoned U.S. Army munitions depot eight miles south of Edgemont, S.D., is being considered as a nuclear site disposal site.
(body of article basically the same as above article)
The Day, New London, Conn; Oct. 14, 1984
Associated Press Writer
(photo) Igloo, an abandoned U.S. Army depot is site of proposed dump.
(photo) Rancher Howard Henderson: He's opposed to the plan.
(text box)"I have no fears about it, I think much of the anti-nuke stuff is a bunch of hype. We've got all sorts of problems with our schools. We have no hospital. I think the business would be good for the town." -Leonard Faiman
(body of article basically the same as above article)
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