Bush's nuclear problem

One of several, actually: A scandal-plagued plan for "safe" storage of the nation's nuclear waste.

By Page Rockwell
Published March 24, 2005 8:45PM (EST)

Well, one of several, we suppose -- and this one isn't about Iran or North Korea, or how to pronounce "nuclear." Last week, we shared news of the Bush administration's pressure on the Interior Department to green-light a proposed nuclear dump site inside Nevada's Yucca Mountain -- apparently Interior Department scientists cooked up some fake data to show the proposed dump would be safe, despite evidence that Yucca is already known to be contaminated by waste that leaked out from nuke tests performed during World War II. An outraged Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pitched an alternate plan, whereby funding for the scandal-plagued Yucca dump project would be parceled out to state and local nuclear cleanup efforts around the country.

If the condition of a former plutonium-production site near Hanford, Wash., is any indication, the existing nuclear sites sure could use the money. Hanford's cleanup crew was told all nuclear fuel had been carefully inventoried. But according to Washington state's Tri-City Herald, workers at the site, which borders the Columbia river, have come across a nuclear burial site for a host of undocumented radioactive materials, including contaminated soil, fuel rods, irradiated nuclear fuel, and a locked safe containing tubes of an unidentified radioactive liquid.

Sure inspires further confidence in the federal government's assurances of "safe" plans for storing nuclear waste.

Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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