Advocates for the Oak Ridge Reservation
112 Newcrest Lane
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

December 18, 2000



Katy Kates, Realty Officer
U.S. Department of Energy
Oak Ridge Operations Office
P.O. Box 2001
Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831

Fax: 865-576-9204

Dear Ms. Kates:

Re: Floodplain and Wetlands Statement of Findings for the Floodplain Strip Adjacent to the Boeing Property in Roane County, Tennessee

Advocates for the Oak Ridge Reservation (AFORR) finds the subject Statement of Findings, published in the Federal Register (Volume 65, Number 233, pages 75680-75681) on December 4, 2000, for 15 days' review, to be both premature and erroneous. On behalf of AFORR, I hereby request that DOE withdraw this Statement of Findings.

It was premature to submit this notice to the Federal Register on November 27, which was several days before the close of state/public comment on the draft environmental assessment that includes the floodplain/wetland assessment on which the finding is based. Government agencies are frequently accused of not paying attention to external input, but it surely makes a mockery of the public involvement process when an agency announces its conclusions before requested input has even been received.

AFORR also has several important substantive objections to this finding. We have already explained our concerns at length in our comments regarding the Draft Environmental Assessment, enclosed with our letter to you dated November 29, 2000, and will not repeat them here. Instead, please consider our November 29 letter and comments to be incorporated by reference in the present letter (for your convenience, a complete copy of our November 29 comments is available on the Internet at http://aforr.org/boeing-ea.html). To summarize the earlier comments, our primary concern is that DOE's assessment of potential impacts to the floodplain and wetland is based on a totally incorrect assumption. Contrary to the assumption DOE made, if the floodplain is transferred to the prospective developer, neither the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) nor the Army Corps of Engineers would have the authority to prevent vegetation alterations that would irreparably damage floodplain and wetland values and functions, which include the populations of state-listed threatened and endangered plant species present on the site. Furthermore, it is not valid for DOE to assume that if the land is conveyed to a private owner for unrestricted use, development would be limited to "the limited improvements [currently] planned for the property."

Therefore, we ask that you withdraw the Notice of Floodplain/Wetland Findings published December 4. A revised finding should not be published until after the draft EA has been thoroughly revised to present assessment(s) based on assumptions whose accuracy has been confirmed by the TVA.

Sincerely,
 
 

John Devereux Joslin, Jr.
President

cc: Leah Dever, DOE ORO
James Elmore, DOE ORO
Carol Borgstrom, DOE EH-42
Mike Crowson, TVA



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