Reading Room

Public Involvement is Key

Friday, September 30, 2018
Posted by Marylia Kelley

Under the Superfund law, a Community Involvement Plan (CIP) is a crucial part of the overall remedy for heavily polluted sites, including at Livermore Lab. Indeed, the CIP is intended to be the strategy that enables public participation throughout the decades-long process of cleaning up hazardous wastes that have leaked into the environment.

In establishing Superfund, the U.S. Congress made clear its intent that members of the public must have a say in cleanup decisions that affect their communities.

At Livermore Lab the Main Site was placed on the Superfund list in 1987. The Site 300 high explosives testing range was placed on that list in 1990. The cleanup process involves a smorgasbord of commingled toxic and radioactive contaminants in soils, multiple groundwater aquifers and some surface waters.

The Livermore Lab cleanup is slated to take many decades, perhaps until 2080 at some locations. If a thorough cleanup does not occur, the existing pollution will threaten our future generations’ access to clean air, land and water.

Recently, the Department of Energy Livermore Field Office released an updated CIP covering the Livermore Lab Main Site and Site 300. This document will determine how – and if – residents in the communities surrounding these polluted sites will be brought into the decision-making process. Because the CIP will drive community involvement activities over a number of years, Tri-Valley CAREs believes it is one of the most important documents to come out of the Superfund process.

Our analysis finds it is flawed in significant ways that will prevent significant segments of the populations surrounding the Livermore Lab Main Site and Site 300 from learning about the Superfund cleanup and participating in decisions.

In particular, we were troubled to read that the Lab’s CIP contains zero commitment to translate any materials into Spanish or to assist Spanish speakers provide testimony at public hearings and meetings. Read on for Tri-Valley CAREs recommendations to improve the CIP.

CLICK HERE to read Tri-Valley CAREs’ comments on the Community Involvement Plan

CLICK HERE to read the Community Involvement Plan