WESTERN STATES LEGAL FOUNDATION |
1504 Franklin St. Suite 202, Oakland, CA 94612 phone: (510) 839-5877
fax: (510) 839-5397 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
BAY AREA PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 5, 2001
CONTACT: Phyllis Olin, attorney, Western States Legal Foundation, at (510) 526-7217
Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs, at (925) 443-7148
Robert Gould, MD President SF-Bay Area Chapter Physicians for Social Responsibility at (408) 972-7299
OAKLAND, CA - On June 26, 2001, Alameda County Superior Court Judge J. Baranco signed a settlement agreement capping two years of negotiations between three Bay Area environmental organizations and the State agency that regulates toxic waste at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
In December 1999, Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF), Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (CAREs), and San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility (SF PSR) filed an environmental lawsuit against the State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).
The lawsuit challenged DTSCs final permit for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) to operate its large on-site hazardous waste treatment facility, on the grounds that the permit had violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Included as Respondents in the lawsuit were the United States Department of Energy (DOE), which operates the Livermore Laboratory, and its manager, the Regents of the University of California.
WSLF, Tri-Valley CAREs and SF PSR initiated the lawsuit in an effort to ensure that DTSC did not allow the hazardous waste treatment facility to operate without certain environmental safeguards to protect the surrounding communities. The environmental watchdog groups, located in Livermore, Oakland, and Berkeley, have monitored LLNL since the 1980s, concerned with both worker and community health issues related to the Lab.
The settlement agreement includes modifications to the permit, additional environmental evaluation surveillance and enhanced reporting.
The Court Order entered today is good news for Livermore Lab workers and the community alike, said Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of the Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs. The state Department of Toxics Substances Control has agreed to double the number of inspections it will conduct at Livermore Lab over the next three years. This increase in regulatory attention to hazardous waste practices at Livermore will help cut down on accidents spills and leaks, Kelley continued. The Labs record has been atrocious, and the main reason we brought the lawsuit was to protect people and the environment.
DTSC agreed to increase its surveillance in the form of added inspections of the waste treatment facility in order to evaluate compliance with permit requirements pertaining to, among other things, emergency notification requirements, waste in hold status requirements and unacceptable waste requirements. The DTSC maintained its discretion to include additional review of other permit requirements if necessary.
As part of the settlement, DTSC agreed to establish, on its official website for LLNL, a new hazardous waste management facilities section. The site will, for the first time, provide the public with information regarding LLNL violations, inspection reports, accident reports, waste minimization conditions, and notice of proposed permit modifications.
Livermore Labs environmental impacts are of concern to the six million people who live within the surrounding 50-mile radius, said Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of WSLF. The new website provides a welcome and much-needed vehicle for public disclosure of LLNLs waste treatment activities. We urge the DTSC to provide timely and comprehensive information.
WSLF attorney Phyllis Olin is pleased that parties have finally reached an agreement after two years of negotiations. DTSC and Real Parties have finally recognized that such a complex project as a hazardous waste treatment facility at a nuclear weapons laboratory has the potential to cause significant environmental impacts and therefore merits a greater degree of scrutiny and public reporting.
The hopeful outcome of this settlement is to enable and require DTSC to better protect the health and wellbeing of communities affected by ongoing dangerous activities at the Lab, said Robert M. Gould, MD, President of SF-Bay Area PSR."
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is one of the U.S. Department of Energys prime nuclear weapons research and design facilities. The University of California operates LLNL pursuant to a contract with DOE.
Plaintiffs were represented by Michael Veiluva of Alborg, Veiluva & Cannata in Walnut Creek, CA, Alan Ramo of the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic, Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco, and Phyllis Olin of Western States Legal Foundation in Oakland.
Copies of the settlement agreement are available upon request.