Nuclear Waste Task Force
The Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force (NNWTF) is a contractor to the state whose purpose was to be the neutral education and outreach arm of the Nuclear Waste Project Office. Instead, it is the propaganda wing for anti-nuclear activists whose roots stretch from NWPO across the country and encompass a variety of environmental and religious apocalyptics.
In late 1987, Judy Treichel, Abby Johnson and Frank Clements formed the non-profit Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force and then waited patiently until the state was able to shoehorn them into a lucrative $163,000 first year contract.
"The Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force was formed in December, 1987, by people who are long time Nevadans. Abby Johnson, of Carson City, and Judy Treichel, of Las Vegas, have worked together for several years on matters surrounding nuclear industry issues in Nevada. Frank Clements, of Boulder City, came to the Task Force with a comprehensive knowledge of environmental issues and thirty-six years of experience in governmental programs through his employment in the U.S. Forest Service. The three founders, each from a different Nevada city, brought together skills in grassroots organizing, knowledge of national policy decision-making and good rapport with Nevada elected officials and existing organizations. The main office of the Task Force was established in Las Vegas, Nevada in February, 1988 with two full-time employees. Judy Treichel serves as executive director and Frank Clements as (part time) office manager." [April 1991 bid proposal from NNWTF to Nevada]
This implies the NNWTF formed out of the blue without reference to the surrounding political battle over nuclear waste in Nevada and nationally. In fact, NNWTF was specifically set up by anti-nuclear environmental groups to fight the nuclear industry on its own turf.
The parent organization to the Nuclear Waste Task Force was the National Nuclear Waste Task Force, directed by Caroline Petti. In 1985, 1986 and 1987, anti-nuclear waste groups formed a national coalition as a part of the Nuclear Safety Project of the Southwest Research and Information Center, a New Mexico based environmental organization. The coalition hired Caroline Petti as their Washington D.C.lobbyist because of her previous work with Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Project and Friends of the Earth on nuclear issues. It was due to the efforts of coalition member Citizen Alert in Nevada, that the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force was formed. Interestingly, Caroline Petti now works for the Environmental Protection Agency writing rules governing radioactive release standards for the New Mexico Waste Isolation Pilot Project and plans to help develop similar regulations for Yucca Mountain.
Citizen Alert had been trying since 1986 to establish Judy Treichel, then a Citizen Alert board member, as director of an information center. A letter from Bob Fulkerson, executive director of Citizen Alert to the DOE dated June 13, 1986 confirms this:
"This is to endorse Judy Treichel's proposal to set up an information office on the high-level nuclear waste issue in Las Vegas.
Clearly, a full time person must be available to provide information to the public. . .
Because no such office currently exists in Las Vegas, we strongly recommend funding Ms. Treichel's proposal."
Citizen Alert's central role in starting the NNWTF was reconfirmed by the late Frank Clements of the NNWTF in a conversation at the Sept. 2, 1992 meeting of the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects (Sawyer Commission). Treichel herself admitted that the Task Force was the idea of herself and Bill Vincent, a previous director of Citizen Alert, to counter the pro-repository activities of groups like the Nuclear Waste Study Committee [phone interview, Aug 23, 1994].
Consequently, the Nuclear Waste Task Force was from the beginning designed by the environmental lobby to fill the role of agitator within the state on the Yucca Mountain issue. Citizen Alert, the Southwest Research and Information Center, the Safe Energy Communication Council and other national environmental organizations were all intimately involved in the creation of the NNWTF.
The links between the environmental lobby and the creation of the NNWTF are significant because the staff of NWPO and NNWTF have since claimed the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force is a neutral entity. The attempt to coverup the origins of the NNWTF in the environmental movement is disturbing in that state officials have repeatedly been forced to deny knowledge of the NNWTF political agenda though perfectly aware of its background and personnel.
Even more disturbing is that Judy Treichel and her Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force were awarded their opening two-year opening contract worth $399,000, without a formal Request for Proposals, and without any competitive bids. Why would the State let a contract of this size to NNWTF, an organization without a previous track record, without even an office, and which was formed only a month previously?
Bob Loux, executive director of the Nuclear Waste Project Office and Judy Treichel had long had cordial ties through their mutual interest in environmental issues in Nevada. Apparently, the pair's mutual desire to stop the Yucca Mountain project overrode their concerns for competition on the public information contract.
The legality of such a sweetheart deal between the State of Nevada and the personal friend of the director of NWPO is obviously questionable. However, Senator Harry Reid, then Governor Richard Bryan and Lieutenant Governor Miller were using Yucca Mountain as a highly charged political football to forward their careers and simply looked the other way when it came to questioning the way NWPO picked its help. Over the years, Loux and the Staff at NWPO succeeded in awarding not only Treichle, but a number of other anti-nuclear allies similar lucrative contracts worth millions of dollars without apparent oversight and on a sole-source basis.
A letter from Judy Treichel to Bob Loux in 1986 (two years before the NNWTF was formed) shows just how tightly linked their political agendas came to be:
Las Vegas, Nevada 89108
7 - 4 - 86
Here's the sort of stuff Bob Dickinson tosses into the weekly publication that goes to all So. Nevada contractors. It makes me crazy every year when we renew our subscription but you really need to know what's printed in here and there's no good substitute.
In this article he uses strange logic. The first paragraph says that we don't want govt. handouts or interference. To achieve that we would take the nuke waste for the govt. He places the govt. where he wants it -- like it has nothing to do with our test site. Wilderness projects restrict us, but nuke sites don't!
Dickinson's group hasn't had any public functions for long time. I think the "fact" bank was the last correspondence. However, in the local papers pro-waste letters to the editor have been frequently appearing. I have lots of stuff I want to write to the papers but I don't dare do that while my proposal is grinding its way through Don Vieth's red tape.
I met with Don last week. He took the proposal and letters and I am to call on Monday and see where we are. I think it will be a long negotiating process.
Thanks so much for your letter. It was great and should really help. The piece you wrote for the paper was good and I'm trying to see what I can do with it, without rocking the boat on my proposal. I'll let you know.
Till Next Time -
It's clear from this letter that the NNWTF's later contract with the state was a sweetheart deal; Loux and Treichel were discussing creating a Trojan Horse public relations position two years before the Nuclear Waste Task Force was ever created. The Don mentioned in Treichel's letter is Don Vieth, who was then the head of DOE Yucca Mountain operation. What Treichel and Loux were trying to do at that time was set up a public relations machine within DOE without anyone catching on to their political biases: "I have lots of stuff I want to write to the papers but I don't dare do that while my proposal is grinding its way through Don Vieth's red tape." In fact, Treichel's proposal was being pushed at the same time the National Nuclear Waste Task Force was being formed by national anti-nuclear forces. Treichel's ties to non-Nevadan environmental special interests devoted to obstructing the Yucca Mountain repository points to the fact that the neutrality claimed by NNWTF in current press releases is a fabrication.
Bob Dickinson, also mentioned in Treichel's letter,was at that time the head of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Study Committee (NWSC), a citizen's group with ties to the United States Council for Energy Awareness (USCEA). USCEA is an energy industry trade organization, so the NWSC is not itself completely neutral about the Yucca Mountain project. However, Dickinson and the NWSC had also proposed an educational program in 1986, which Loux stonewalled. Later, when Treichel's Nuclear Waste Task Force was selected to run the information program for the State, Dickinson and USCEA complained about the dishonest way they were excluded from consideration, but were politically straight-armed by Bob Loux. A letter from Bob Loux to Dickinson on NWPO letterhead dated Feb 18, 1988 engaged in some stretches of the truth:
"In selecting a contractor to implement this project, which is intended to enhance public knowledge and participation, NWPO looked for proposals which would assure the broadest possible representation of citizens relative to the nuclear waste disposal issue. Publically issuing our Request for Proposals, there was a clear intent to avoid engaging groups or organizations which represented extreme positions at either pole of the debate. We received no proposal from Citizen Alert, who you and others have branded "extremist" on nuclear issues, nor did we receive a proposal from the committee you professionally represent, the Nuclear Waste Study Committee. Your group also has been viewed as polar in its position on the nuclear waste issue since it is financially supported by the nuclear power industry through its U.S. Council for Energy Awareness, an organization that, by your own statements, is actively promoting the repository in Nevada. [Letter from Bob Loux, Feb 18,1988]
Loux's criticism of USCEA as being biased is no doubt true, but if bias disqualified USCEA from representing the state, why did it not also disqualify NNWTF? While NWPO did not receive a proposal directly from Citizen Alert, Judy Treichel was intimately connected with the organization and received a direct recommendation from the organization on letterhead that listed her as a member of its board of directors. Citizen Alert was a key part of the coalition that formed the National Nuclear Waste Task Force, then headed by Caroline Petti, with which the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force was affiliated.
Moreover, how could the Nevada Nuclear Waste Study Committee and its parent USCEA not have known about a Request for Proposals in the one area it was most interested in, public education? Particularly galling was the fact that the Study Committee had already submitted an educational proposal to the state which had been rejected. In a protest of the NNWTF award, Bob Dickinson made the following comment:
"Two years ago (1986) the NNWSC presented to the Commission on Nuclear Projects a thorough public information and education program which was well documented. In it was a program aimed at schools, libraries, public meetings and a comprehensive list of source material on all aspects of high level nuclear waste storage and transportation. Based on NNWSC's previous interest, Loux had a clear responsibility to have notified the committee directly that his office was seeking proposals." [excerpted in theNevada Monitor, publisahed by Nevada Nuclear Waste Study Committee,Spring 1988, page 3, see also original Dickinson letter]
Even the Las Vegas Review Journal was forced to comment on the bizarre nature of these goings-on:
ANTI-NUKE ACTIVIST WAS A POOR CHOICE FOR STATE TASK FORCE
The state's decision to hire a committed anti-nuclear activist to head up the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force was clearly ill advised and will destroy -- in advance -- any shot the group has at establishing credibility. . . .
Consider that Judy Treichel has had her finger in just about every anti-nuclear pie that's been cooked up in recent years. She has supported the demonstrators who infiltrate the Nevada Test Site. She is on the board of directors of Citizen Alert, an environmental group that hates anything nuclear. She helped organize local elements of the Great Peace March, which tromped across the country decrying nuclear weapons. She is a member of Clergy and Laity Concerned, a group that, when not decrying U. S. policy in Central America, is also stridently anti-nuclear. . . . [Las Vegas Review Journal, Opinion, Feb 18,1988]
In fact, Judy Treichel is a professional anti-nuclear protestor, having connections to Peace Links, Citizen Alert, Sagebrush Alliance, Clergy and Laity Concerned, Lenten Desert Experience, Nevada Desert Experience and a number of other protest organizations.
Bob Loux now claims to not know anything about Judy Treichel's political connections and agenda. On February 24, 1993, on the "Lark and the Byrd Radio Show", in an exchange with Robert Diero of the Nuclear Waste Study Committee, Loux was caught in a blatant lie:
DIERO: I would also like to ask you this: Judy Treichel is hired to operate a division of your office called the Nuclear Waste Task Force. That particular division of your office was mandated to contact citizens and give them both the pros and cons of the repository. Now, I've met the lady, and been to a number of debates with her, would you say that Judy Treichel is impartial? LOUX: Well Bob, she hands out material which is produced by the nuclear power industry which has a bias on it, as well as providing information from environmental groups. So she's providing both sides of the issue. DIERO: I see. Would you categorize her as neutral on the issue or pro or con on the repository? LOUX: Uh, her personal views are something that I'm not totally familiar with.
Loux knows very well what Treichel's personal views are and his choice of the NNWTF as a nuclear information resource was not a pure business decision. For Loux to be unaware of Treichel's political agenda would require him to admit being asleep at the wheel at NWPO. He also was well aware of Treichel's technical qualifications, or lack thereof, regarding nuclear issues. As chief nuclear information officer for the state, Judy Treichel's credentials are decidedly underwhelming, except in the area of professional anti-nuclear protest. According to a biographical sheet from the NNWTF:
"Judy Treichel moved to Las Vegas in 1969 from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is the mother of three children and has two grandchildren. She attended the University of Minnesota.
Ms. Treichel worked in Las Vegas for Computer Sciences Corp., a subcontractor to the Department of Energy Nevada Operations Office.
She spent many years in labor/management relations and finally focused her attention on the social aspects of Nevada's environmental issues.
Ms. Treichel is associated with many local and national justice and environmental organizations. She is a founding member and director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force. That organization is currently under contract to the state of Nevada to provide public information on nuclear projects. She is the executive director of the Task Force. [Resume from contract proposal of Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force to the Nevada Nuclear Waste Project Office, Spring 1988]
Note that while Treichel attended the University of Minnesotta, she did not graduate and does not in fact have any technical background or degree. In fact, Treichel's entire coursework at the University of Minnesota consists of one English course, from which she received no grade. While Treichel may have no technical credentials, we find in a September 18, 1983 article by Mary Manning in the Las Vegas Sun, just how busy she has been with justice and environmental movements:
"A budding human rights coalition formed in Las Vegas last spring blossomed as Clergy and Laity Concerned.
The umbrella organization embraces members from all Southern Nevada groups interested in human rights , peace and justice, coordinator Judy Treichel said. . . . .
Treichel was the coordinator for the second Lenten Desert Experience last spring, a vigil kept at the gates of the Nevada Test Site during the Roman Catholic 40-day period of Lent before Easter Sunday.
She also has been active in Nevada's grassroots drive to keep the MX missile out of Nevada and Utah. . . .
Treichel formed Clergy and Laity Concerned after the Lenten Desert Experience with the help of May Miller of Northern Nevada, a long time environmentalist and peace activist, and grants from national organizations. The organization is forming a steering committee statewide, representing minorities." [Manning, Mary; Las Vegas Sun, Sept 18, 1983]
There are a number of interesting points to glean from this column, the first being that Judy Treichel was active in Citizen Alert during the MX Missile debate in the early 80s. Secondly, that Treichel has close ties to the Lenten Desert Experience, later known as Nevada Desert Experience, which has disrupted activities at the Nevada Test Site for years. Thirdly, we see reference to "grants from national organizations"; a convenient way of describing the way Treichel's organizations form out of thin air funded by un-named out-of-state interests. In fact, the list of organizations that Treichel has been connected with shows she is a one-woman walking protest march:
The idea that Bob Loux is unaware of Judy Treichel's political bias is thus ludicrous, she was in fact picked by the state specifically because of her history of connections with nuclear protest movements.
NON-COMPETITIVE BIDS It would be unfair to completely belittle Ms. Treichel's activist resume, for in it's own way it speaks of accomplishment. Unfortunately, it is not the same level of competence and expertise offered by many other overly-qualified individuals in Nevada with advanced degrees. Any of a number of professionals and organizations would have died for the same sort of contract conditions offered Judy Treichel and the NNWTF by the Nuclear Waste Project Office. In fact, two later submissions for the NNWTF information contract beat Treichel's credentials hands down, and there no doubt would have been more bids on these contract renewals had the state not carefully limited notice of Requests for Proposals in 1988, 1989, and 1991.
Evidently, the Nuclear Waste Project Office rigged the bid for public information not once, but three times in order to give preference to NNWTF and Judy Treichel. It did so not for the best interests of the state, but to ensure the anti-nuclear ideological purity of NWPO and give it a public relations propaganda arm. In response to Bob Dickinson's protests in 1988 regarding the original sweetheart contract given in February 1988 to NNWTF, a Request for Proposals was sent out May 2, 1989 with proposals to be received at the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects by May 19, 1989. Responding to that request was a proposal from the Center for Management Programs of the University of Nevada Las Vegas:
"Public universities - institutions with unique responsibilities for education, research, and service in the interest of the state - provide a fertile ground for dissimination of information, public forums, and an open environment for the objective discussion of society's most complex issues. We believe the University offers uniquely qualified broad-based community programs for effective communication and public participation about the complex issues associated with locating and operating a proposed high level nuclear repository in Nevada.
The Center for Management Programs, one of a number of research and service centers of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas currently offers a wide-range of seminar, training, and informational programs to the general public within a professional development and public policy framework. The Center utilizes faculty, business, and industry leaders throughout Nevada. Working within the wide circle of university and community groups on a daily basis, the Center fashions tailored outreach programs. Outreach and communication constitutes the mission of the proposed program to meet the needs for citizen participation in public hearings, scoping meetings, and in review and evaluation plans and decisions on the proposed Yucca Mountain Repository." [Public Participation Program Proposal, Ed Goodin, Center for Management Programs of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, May 18, 1989]
The proposal goes on to describe the many community contact and university resources of the Center for Management Programs, which in hindsight seem irrelevant to the stacked deck arrayed against them by NWPO. Most interesting is the credentials of four main principals:
Clearly, something is wrong when a group with three PhDs and an MS and with extensive university resources at hand (including UNLV's engineering department) is turned down. The absolute weight of such a rejection says that it was mighty important to someone that Judy Treichel, a little old housewife with no college education, be kept in her position.
To add injury to insult, in 1991 the contract cycle brought one more Request for Proposals. This time a private concern, Kadar Management, applied for the position of providing unbiased information to the citizens of the state about Yucca Mountain. Frank Darr of Kadar had some choice words to say about what happened.
"I felt as though we were never given a chance. . ."
"We were first told the bid opening was set for a certain date. Then we were told that we didn't have to be there because they weren't going to award the contract that day. When we didn't show up, they awarded the contract anyway." [interview with Frank Darr, June, 1992]
What qualifications did the Kadar Management team bring?
It isn't necessary to claim Kadar's proposal was the best under the sun to prove a very important point: the bid process was rigged. Kadar could not have been ranked much lower than they were by the State and the documentary evidence is provided by Figure 4, the rating sheet of NWPO consultants Steve Frishman and Dennis Baughman. Steve Frishman, a geologist for NWPO, rated Kadar a 10 vs a 56 for Treichel. Dennis Baughman, a NWPO public relations director, ranked Kadar a 12 to Treichel's 60. Surely, Frank Darr, who had built reactors, worked at the Nevada Test Site and was a life time engineer had enough nuclear expertise to give Kadar a better ranking than zero on "Overall, working knowledge of high-level repository program". The treatment of Kadar Management would have been the typical meat and potatoes of state politics, if it hadn't also been combined with a systematic effort to keep Judy Treichel in position at all costs and no matter how many lies had to be told.
Two things should be kept in mind about the Southern Nevada job market. First, after gambling, Las Vegas is a government contract town (Nellis AFB, DOE, SAIC, UNLV, Nevada Test Site, Reeco, EE&G, Holmes and Narver, Lockheed, EPA, etc. . . .). This means there are always qualified technical and managerial talent available with advanced degrees and hands-on nuclear experience. Secondly, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas is starved for funding in comparison to its northern cousin in Reno. This means UNLV would have gladly provided top notch talent to provide educational services. What all these talented Nevadans lacked, however, was Judy Treichel's association "with many local and national justice and environmental organizations.", specifically rabid anti-nuclear groups.
TREICHEL'S ANTI-NUCLEAR OUTREACH
Treichel's 1993 contract renewal brought total commitments to date to the Nuclear Waste Task Force to $1.3 million dollars. This entire sum has been provided by nuclear ratepayers and the nuclear industry, all supposedly for the purpose of providing educational and informational service on the nuclear waste issue to Nevadans. In reality, the money provided a technically unqualified activist housewife with the funds to operate a national political action committee dedicated to opposing nuclear energy. Treichel's anti-nuclear agitation was never limited to Nevada alone and she in fact serves as a clearing house for anti-nuclear activities nationwide:
"Well, I hear from people almost every day, that are not only from Nevada, but are from a lot of different areas. And there are nationwide groups of grass roots people, the Safe Energy Communications Council works all the time. The Nuclear Information Resource Service, these are both in Washington. There are, I don't know, 6 or 8 national groups. Don't Waste U.S., and then there are groups in a whole lot of different states who are all trying to find out information. We mail them what we can. We also ask them to mail us the sort of information they have so we can keep up on what's going on there. I don't hear from people, and I really truly believe that there are a lot of people out there that even though we are told there are 49 states out there that want to dump on Nevada, because what we're hearing from other people, what Steve's (Frishman) brought up, that they don't think its fair. But they're also worried it's not the right answer. And there are not a lot of obstructionists out there. . . ."[Treichel Statements to Citizens Against Nuclear Waste In Nevada, 6/29/93]
In fact, there are obstructionists out there. Daily office records of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force reveal Treichel's main occupation is contacting and organizing anti-nuclear activists who want to shut down all nuclear activities.
Treichel's 1991 contract proposal lists contacts with numerous organizations within the State of Nevada as part of its claim to being outreach specialists. The names of Treichel's associations are important, showing her objective was never to provide Nevadans with unbiased information. The following is approximately half the contact list from NNWTF's 1991 proposal, showing the anti-repository portion. While Treichel also answered informational requests from neutral and pro-nuclear inquirers, it is clear from her involvements that her purpose was to coordinate resistance from Nevada's anti-nuclear groups with national environmental activists. ANTI YUCCA MOUNTAIN ASSOCIATIONS
While Treichel certainly did not limit her contacts exclusively to anti-nuclear activists, the following log excerpts show that such contacts are the primary activity of the Task Force.