Environmental Health News

What's Working

  • Garden Mosaics projects promote science education while connecting young and old people as they work together in local gardens.
  • Hope Meadows is a planned inter-generational community containing foster and adoptive parents, children, and senior citizens
  • In August 2002, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board voted to ban soft drinks from all of the district’s schools

#19 - Radioactive Waste Sites Sought In Eastern States Once Again; Grassroots Opposition Building, 05-Apr-1987

The federal government has flip-flopped again and will soon be looking
for places to begin drilling in eastern states, looking for a permanent
home for the nation's enormous backlog of high-level radioactive
wastes. The wastes are temporarily stored in pools of water at
operating nuclear power plants, but the pools are filling up. The
search for deep-earth repositories in eastern states had been announced
several years ago but was canceled for what seemed to be political
reasons. Now the east will once again be examined for a possible
"second repository;" the "first repository" will still be built in
Nevada or Washington state or Texas, if federal officials have their

However, federal radioactive waste disposal programs are "on the verge
of technical, legal, and political collapse," according to a coalition
of grass roots citizen groups who have been monitoring federal programs
carefully. Called the National Nuclear Waste Task Force, the coalition
has active citizen groups in Nevada, Washington state, Texas,
Mississippi, Utah, Oregon, Tennessee, Georgia, Maine, Minnesota, New
Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Their
immediate goal is to alert Congress to the failure of nuclear waste
programs that the federal Department of Energy (DOE) manages under
authority of the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act. They want federal
funding cut and DOE's present programs halted.

The Task Force says DOE has mismanaged the program, has allowed
political considerations to cloud its science, has selected both first
and second repository candidate sites that appear to be technically
unsuitable, and has proposed an expensive, unnecessary, and dangerous
"Monitored Retrievable Storage (MRS)" facility to be built in Tennessee
to make up for the program's other failures.

The Task Force is calling for establishment of an independent
commission to review DOE's repository and MRS programs. To get involved
in the Task Force's efforts, contact Caroline Petti, 2001 O Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20036; phone (202) 457-0545.

--Peter Montague



Is your drinking water safe? The only way to find out is to test it
periodically--once a year or more often. Who can do the tests?

One possibility is a mail-order water testing firm that delivers high
quality results at reasonable prices, such as the WaterTest Corporation
of Manchester, NH. The cost of their service includes the cost of door-
to-door overnight sample pickup, sampling bottles, instructions for
taking the samples, and a chemical pack that freezes samples so they
arrive at the New Hampshire laboratory fresh. You receive written
results in 6 to 10 days, a booklet that helps you interpret the
results, plus access to WaterTest's technical staff on an 800 hotline

WaterTest has three basic groups of tests they perform; the simplest,
called the Basic Test, costs $54.95 and is recommended if you drink
from a well, if you purchase water from a public supply that's drawn
from a well, or if there have been reports of bacterial problems in
your water supply. The Basic Test covers 10 common measures of water
quality: fluoride, chloride, pH, hardness, copper, iron, manganese,
sodium, nitrates, and bacteria.

The Standard Test covers everything in the Basic Test plus lead,
mercury, arsenic, chromium, silver, selenium, barium, cadmium, zinc,
nickel, calcium, sulfate, potassium, magnesium, total dissolved solids,
and alkalinity. The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requires
this test once each year for all public water supplies. (Twenty percent
of all public systems fail this test, and the public is almost never
told.) The federal law does not cover private wells, so if you drink
from a well, you're on your own.

If you suspect the presence of hazardous organic chemicals, you should
consider WaterTest's SuperTest; it's $174.95 and it covers everything
in the Standard Test, plus 33 organic chemicals: carbon tetrachloride,
1,2-dichloroethane, 1,1dichloroethane, 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane, 2-
chlorovinyl ether, 1,1-dichloroethylene, 1,2-dichloropropane, methylene
chloride, methyl bromide, tetrachloroethylene (PCE),
dichlorodifluoromethane, dichlorobromomethane, chlorodibromomethane,
chloroform, bromoform, benzene, ethylbenzene, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, 1,2-
dichlorobenzene, chlorobenzene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, 1,1,2-
trichloroethane, chloroethane, trichlorofluoromethane, 1,2-trans-
dichloroethylene, 1,3-dichloropropylene, chloromethane,
trichloroethylene (TCE), ethylene dibromide (EDB), vinyl chloride,
toluene, chlorobenzene, and 1,3-dichlorobenzene.

These 33 organic compounds represent typical chemicals found in dry
cleaning, gasoline stations, manufacturing, toxic dumps, and household
garbage. WaterTest will test for the 33 organics alone for $104.95.

A test for bacteria alone in your water supply costs $29.95, and a test
for lead alone costs $31.95. A test (called GC-608) for 20 pesticides
costs $400. WaterTest will also do special tests (for example, PCBs) on

If you check prices locally from certified laboratories, you will see
that WaterTest is competitive; the quality of their service is widely

For more information, contact Kent Threlfall at WaterTest, 33 S.
Commercial St., Manchester, NH 03101-2610; phone 800-426-8378.

--Peter Montague


Descriptor terms: doe; waste disposal technologies; repositories;
radioactive waste; federal; mrs; national nuclear waste task force;
nuclear waste policy act; wa; tx; nv; tn; mrs; hlw; citizen groups; wi;
va; nc; ga; me; mi; nh; nm; ut; or; doe; drinking water; testing; sdwa;
watertest corporation;