Putin Says Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is Vital to World Peace and Security

Wildlife Refuge Proposed for Colorado's Rocky Flats

Trucks Carrying Nuclear Waste to Undergo Stricter Inspections

* Russian President Vladimir Putin recently described the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (or ABM Treaty) as the "root and trunk" of world security. Many times in recent years Russia has stated that U.S. plans to develop and operate a missile defense system would violate the treaty. The missile defense system would be a space-based defense where high-speed rocket missiles would attack incoming warheads as they begin to descend on targets. Nevertheless, the ABM Treaty prohibits such national defense systems. Opposition to the system includes Russia, our European allies, and China.

Speaking to Russian legislature this week, Putin said that "[a]ny attempts to change the treaty will shake the strategic root and trunk of world peace and security."

* For the second time, Colorado lawmakers are introducing federal legislation to transform the Department of Energy's Rocky Flats Plant, one of the most polluted former nuclear weapons plants in the nation, into a national wildlife refuge. Senator Wayne Allard and Representative Mark Udall have presented a bill to Congress that would create a home for wildlife on about 6,000 acres at Rocky Flats. Studies, however, have found plutonium, carbon tetrachloride, beryllium and uranium in the soil and surface water in the Rocky Flats area and in surrounding communities.

After being raided by the FBI in 1989, Rocky Flats went into shut down mode. Since that time cleanup activities have been ongoing and DOE expects the cleanup to be complete on December 15, 2006 and cost $4 billion. DOE is required to meet federal cleanup standards but environmentalists are concerned that if the proposed wildlife refuge is created that clean-up standards will not longer be met. Susan LeFever of the Sierra Club said, "[t]here are definite concerns in the environmental community about whether this is an attempt to evade cleaning up these kinds of facilities."

Udall claims that he will work to prevent the government from evading its cleanup responsibilities and said that "[i]n essence, we will be converting bombs into birds, weapons into wildlife, armaments into open space."

*Semi-trucks hauling plutonium-contaminated waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (or WIPP) will have to face more rigid inspections beginning in May. All trucks passing through the Raton Pass weigh station on Interstate 25, including all trucks travelling to WIPP, will have to pass between two six-foot radiation detector towers before continuing.

Of the 159 shipments that have been trucked to WIPP since the plant opened almost two years ago, between 80 and 90 percent have passed through Raton. Each WIPP truck is individually inspected with a handheld radiation monitor. Bobby M. Lopez, a water resource engineer specialist with the state Environment Department, said that as yet, there is no reliable way for the Environment Department to know exactly how much radiation is being shipped into New Mexico. The new, large radiation monitors that will be in operation in May will accurately measure radiation from all trucks. Trucks exceeding the maximum radioactivity level of 200 milliRoentgen can be stopped by the state Department of Transportation.

Back to News Index