By Michael Collins
LA Weekly – October 28, 1999
Environmentalists and Sen. Barbara Boxer are assailing the pro-nuclear composition of the state committee charged with coming up with an alternative to the absurd, and now abandoned, Ward Valley nuclear dump in the Mojave Desert. Nuclear waste generators, medical, academic and industrial, outnumber environmentalist and Native American opponents by a 3-to-1 ratio; the committee will meet only twice before making its recommendation. “California may be on the verge of repeating the mistakes that led to the Ward Valley impasse,” says Jonathan Parfrey, Southern California director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Public interest advocates had worried about new dump plans ever since Gov. Gray Davis made Lynn Shanks his chief of staff. Former house counsel for San Diego Gas & Electric, which operates the San Onofre nuclear power plant, Shanks also worked as an attorney for the National Association of Cancer Patients, which filed suit to try to ramrod the Ward Valley site through the state legislature. Now, their fears appear to have materialized. “We are at risk of starting down a similar road with a task force so imbalanced that consensus with the environmental community is impossible,” says Parfrey.