Stanford gets OK for toxics storage
Publication Date: Wednesday Sep 20, 1995

TOXICS: Stanford gets OK for toxics storage

But new storage facility is opposed by some residents

Stanford University won approval from Santa Clara County last week to build a 6,500-square-foot storage facility for radioactive materials, but the matter isn't over.

Bill Watson, a Menlo Park resident, and Ernest Goitein, an Atherton resident, want to have that decision appealed so a full hearing can be held by the Santa Clara County Planning Commission. Both say that they want a full environmental impact report done because of the potential danger from the materials that will be stored at the new building.

The approval of the storage facility came from the Architectural and Site Approval Committee on Sept. 14. By law, that decision can be appealed to the county Planning Commission within 15 days.

"Palo Alto would be in the best position to appeal," Watson said, because of the numerous other development projects the university has pending before the city.

Palo Alto Mayor Joe Simitian said Monday he will speak to City Manager June Fleming about the issue, and whether the city should be involved.

The city of Menlo Park, meanwhile, has no interest in the project's approval process, said Mayor Dee Tolles. "I have total faith in the integrity and ability of Stanford scientists and researchers," Tolles said.

Stanford's Environmental safety Facility (ESF), located across Sand Hill Road from the Oak Creek Apartments, has been cited by the state for numerous safety violations dating back to 1988.

But ESF, which includes an incinerator to burn certain wastes, received a "complete clean bill of health" after inspections from two state health agencies and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission in April, May and June, said Larry Gibbs, Stanford's director of environmental safety and health.

A full EIR is not needed for the new storage facility, Gibbs said, because Stanford is not doing anything different. Gibbs said that was the conclusion the county planning safety and its environmental consultant came to. "There is really no significant change or impact due to this facility," he said. "That's been our view all along."

Watson, however, thinks otherwise.

Speaking of Palo Alto officials, Watson said, "They should be protecting their citizens. If they won't (appeal), we'll find a way."

Goitein wants a full EIR because Stanford is burning radioactive materials in the ESF incinerator. "In view of a nearby school and residents, I believe more information is required, and alternatives should be considered as is required in an EIR," Goitein write to Palo Alto and Menlo Park officials.

--Don Kazak

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