Ashford's municipal leaders should resign because they misrepresented the majority of residents by claiming the town was willing to accept more radioactive waste for storage, a spokesman for the Concerned Citizens of Ashford said Wednesday.
Timothy P. Mayerat said his group wants Supervisor William King and the Town Board to resign.
"We feel that they have totally misrepresented Ashford residents by sending a false message that we would be willing to accept more radioactive waste. . . . We do not want any more radioactive waste brought to Ashford," Mayerat said.
"I plan not to resign," King said when told of Mayerat's statement. "None of us have it in our near-future plans to resign."
King said if Concerned Citizens thinks the Town Board has sent a message it would be willing to accept more radioactive waste, "that's not our intention. No decision has been made to bring it in here," he said. "The false impression is their interpretation."
Concerned Citizens promoted a 1985 Town Board resolution that banned future storage of deposits of radioactive wastes in Ashford, a town 30 miles south of Buffalo in Cattaraugus County that is the site of a major nuclear waste storage site, the West Valley Demonstration Project. Concerned Citizens supports the demonstration project, Mayerat said.
Mayerat said the group is upset at the Town Board for voting to clear part of the legal path that would allow outside low-level radioactive waste to be deposited in the town.
King was elected last November without opposition to his first term as supervisor.
The state is in the midst of a process of trying to decide at which of five sites in Allegany and Cortland counties it should store low-level nuclear waste. Since more potent waste is already stored in Ashford, opponents of waste storage in other counties have suggested storing low-level waste as well.
Mayerat said that Concerned Citizens fears that the State Legislature, responding to the Ashford Town Board cue, might swiftly vote to rescind the state law that bans the Town of Ashford as a storage location for the low-level radioactive waste.
"Because of the resistance in Allegany and Cortland counties, the state would be off the hook if it could locate a new low-level radioactive storage area in Cattaraugus County," Mayerat said.
Although the state Low-Level Radioactive Waste Siting Commission decided not to ask the Legislature to lift the ban, Chairman Angelo Orazio planned to continue trying to persuade legislators to do so.
The Town of Ashford embraces the 3,345-acre state-owned Western New York Nuclear Service Center as well as the 200-acre federally operated West Valley Demonstration Project. Some low-level waste now buried in Demonstration Project trenches has provoked fears of leaching and contaminating nearby land and water. Other low-level waste being generated daily at the Demonstration Project and is blended with cement and is being stored in an above-ground, shielded structure on the Demonstration Project land.
Mayerat said that his group, which numbered about 75 persons between 1983 and 1985, became largely inactive after the 1985 resolution banning the additional introduction of radioactive waste was passed.
"But now everyone is excited again. We are starting to circulate a petition calling for the resignation of all Town Board members," he said Wednesday.
"I'm not angry at them suggesting this," King said. "I appreciate their interests and their concerns, as always. On behalf of my board members, they feel what they're doing is of the best interest for the majority of the residents of Ashford."
He said the board would be guided by majority opinion on the issue.
News Staff Reporter Carolyn Raeke contributed to this report.