LANL Proposing To Store 1,000
Shielded Drums of Commercial Radioactive Waste Indefinitely
at its Area G Dump Site
State of Idaho Misrepresents Contaminants Released
in INEEL Fire
Debate Over Missile Plan Deepens in
Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is proposing to bring 1,000
shielded drums of commercial transuranic radioactive waste from
private industries to Area G, LANL's nuclear dump-site located
on one of the finger-like mesas on LANL property. These drums
will contain approximately 21,000 sealed sources of radiation
from various industries, government laboratories and universities.
The drums contain radioactive materials, including plutonium-238,
plutonium-239, and amercium-241, and hazardous waste such as beryllium.
Since this waste is not from military projects, but from commercial
projects it can not be sent to WIPP, yet bringing these drums
to LANL is called interim storage. John Themelis, acting assistant
manager for environmental operations at DOE in Albuquerque, claims
that LANL is only a temporary storage spot.
about 60,000 drums of contaminated materials from the nation's
weapons work are stored above-ground in plastic-domed tents at
Area G. During the Cerro Grande fire, the flames came to within
several hundred yards of Area G.
express grave concerns that Area G is becoming another WIPP site
and that New Mexico is fast becoming a nuclear sacrifice zone
and a key player in DOE's nuclear waste shell game.
Hancock, director of the nuclear-safety program at Southwest Research
and Information Center based in Albuquerque said, "At the same
time they're making a big deal about accelerating sending that
stuff to WIPP, they're doing the opposite here." He opposes bringing
in private nuclear waste pointing to the fact that "the DOE doesn't
have a good record of handling its own waste."
fact, the commercial industry has a better safety record. So the
industry that handles it better sends stuff to DOE - this is not
a plus for the health and security (of the public)."
Broscious, of the Environmental Defense Institute, and Mary Woollen
Mitchell, with Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free, sent out a press
release stating that the "State of Idaho grossly misrepresents
its own INEEL fire monitoring data" and that "the environmental
community has an obligation to tell the truth about the INEEL
fire even when the State of Idaho's INEEL Oversight Program conspires
with the Department of Energy to trivialize the health and safety
impact of the July 26-29 fire." INEEL is the acronym for Idaho
National Environmental and Engineering Laboratory.
State of Idaho issued a News Release on August 22 that acknowledged
a small increase "consistent with historical background levels,
[and that] Oversight scientists expected increased levels would
be detected after the fire due to the release of naturally occurring
according to the Director of the Environmental Defense Institute,
Chuck Broscious, "the State failed to mention that its own monitoring
data show about an 870% increase in gross alpha and a 600% increase
in gross beta radiation during the INEEL fire period. Any increase
in radiation exposure brings increased health risks. Even the
smallest inhaled particle of plutonium in the lung can cause cancer.
Plutonium is an alpha emitting radionuclide and cesium is a beta/gamma
at the Pentagon and the State Department are at odds over how
far work on a limited national missile defense system could go
before the United States government would be required to give
formal notice to Russia that it was in violation of the Antiballistic
Missile Treaty of 1972. The Russians have stood vehemently against
any changes in the Treaty to permit elaborate new radar installations.
The concern is that changes in the Treaty will lead to a larger
system that would undermine Russia's strategic nuclear force.
month Defense Secretary William Cohen said that there was agreement
for building a radar station in Alaska. He had said this effort
could continue until 2002 before the United States would violate
the treaty. Now information has come out that this point of view
represents just one of three interpretations drafted by Clinton
administration lawyers. Officials from the Pentagon and the State
Department said that Mr. Cohen was wrong when he told the Senate
Armed Services Committee last month that administration lawyers
had reached agreement. Senior policy makers at the State Department
and the National Security Council contend that it would be overly
aggressive and unilateral to go ahead building new radar installations,
and would anger Russians and European allies.
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