For the most part, especially with our national and state government, the public has many opportunities to provide input before changes or actions on issues take place. Some people are vigilant at watching the legal advertisements in their community newspapers and then participating in the processes that include public input. Other people are apathetic, do nothing at the time of a hearing and then complain because they disagree with the steps that are later taken.
When it comes to public meetings and decisions made by government agencies, input is welcome, and often scoping meetings or hearings are held as action is being considered on an issue. It is our responsibility to provide guidance, ask questions, voice concerns and air differences when we have the opportunities available to us.
I am always pleased to see community citizens attend city council meetings and commission meetings just because they are interested in the process. While it may always not seem so, the publics comments do make a difference in the end.
A good example of the importance of providing input occurred last Tuesday night in East Carbon. It was the first scoping meeting in the area concerning the importation of possible contaminated tailings from the old Atlas processing plant in Moab to ECDC. People who weren't able to make that meeting or provide input still have opportunities to ask questions and provide opinions.
Over 60 people, many from Carbon county, attended, and provided over two hours of questions and comments to Department of Energy officials. The obvious concern dealt mainly with safety and health issues. Many people are concerned what could happen if radioactive waste was dumped within a few miles of their homes in East Carbon, Columbia and Sunnyside. Questions about how dust carries the contaminated tailings and what could happens if the tailings leak from their cells in years to come were common concerns at the meeting.
The important thing to remember in this particular situation is that in order for the DEO to select a site that works best for everyone involved, they have to provide a number of alternate sites. ECDC is just one of five sites selected for initial consideration.
I believe that one of the reasons they would even consider ECDC is because it is an existing waste facility, although it is not currently licensed to accept radioactive material. The other possible waste site being considered is in San Juan county at the White Mesa Mill. However, both sites are relatively a long way from the current problem that has plagued Moab for many years.
Of importance right now is that people need to provide their comments to the DOE. The public scoping period is currently underway but will end February 14.