By Caroline Phillips

“Consent based siting” is the process proposed by the Department of Energy (DOE) to locate radioactive waste dump sites around the US. Fairewinds Energy Education believes that such a process is biased against communities struggling financially due to factory closings and the global economy. Choosing an atomic waste dump is tempting to towns and villages so anxious to increase short term income and economic survival that they are willing to sacrifice long-term environmental damage in return for that income.

At its heart, the consent based process is an environmental justice violation as well as a DOE method to avoid finding an appropriate scientifically viable site to dump by foisting it on impoverished citizens who will not mount a protest.

Nuclear waste remains toxic for tens of thousands of years. The consent based siting proposed by the DOE lures currently underemployed citizens to commit their hometown community for hundreds of future generations of potential genetic damage in return for a short term income gain to a few individuals, who own that land.

While atomic power reactors have left all of us with mountains of radioactive garbage that will need monitoring and special handling for hundreds, and even thousands, of years, instead the DOE must find the best waste dump location, and not just stick the waste where the fewest individuals will launch protest actions. When Litchfield County Connecticut and Orange County California have an equal chance at being chosen to be the site of a nuclear waste dump as environmentally sensitive low income counties in Texas or Native American reservations in the west, the DOE will have succeeded in optimizing its search for a waste disposal site. The current Consent Based Siting process violates the basic tenants of environmental justice.

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