For Immediate Release: October 23, 1997
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler -- 916 654-4989

Federal Government Announces
Tentative Nuclear Route from Concord

Sacramento -- The federal Department of Energy (DOE) representatives today announced, at a Western Governor's Association meeting, their tentative selection of a preferred primary and alternate route for foreign nuclear waste shipments from California to Idaho.

The DOE hopes to complete their decision by late November or early December. The primary route leaves Concord Naval Station and travels to Idaho by rail via Martinez, Davis, Sacramento and through the Feather River Canyon. The secondary route leaves Concord Naval Station and travels by rail via Martinez, Davis, Sacramento, Roseville and over the Donner Pass.

In 1996, over the objections of state officials, the DOE selected Concord, California, as the port of entry for foreign nuclear fuel that is returning to the United States under the Atoms for Peace program.

"The people of the state, speaking through the strong voices of both Governor Pete Wilson and the state legislature, remain adamantly opposed to using Concord Naval Weapons Station as the primary port of entry," stated Energy Commissioner Robert Laurie. "The federal government eliminated shorter, more direct routes from Washington and Oregon and selected the California route which requires rail travel adjacent to refineries, close to densely populated areas in both the Bay and Sacramento Areas and across steep peaks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains."

"On October 17, 1997, we wrote a letter to the Department of Energy demanding they use the Western Governors' Association route-specific safety factors to evaluate the rail routes," commented Commissioner Laurie. "We want assurances that the federal government has included into their route-risk analyses the refineries and petroleum carriers next to the rail routes from Concord and the frequent, recent train derailments both in Contra Costa County and the trans-Sierra routes. The Western Governors' Association criteria are more scientifically comprehensive and accurate than the three simple factors DOE uses of population, distance and track quality."

California officials support the federal policy of returning foreign spent fuel to the United States thereby removing the potential for international commerce and use in nuclear weapons. What state officials objected to is that the Department of Energy ignored its own findings in selecting Oregon or Washington as the preferred ports and instead selected Concord.

The California Energy Commission is the coordinating agency for all state agencies with public health and safety roles related to nuclear transportation. Additional information on this issue is available on the Energy Commission web site at

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