July 15, 2003
Bush's Attempted "Cover-Up" of Radioactive Wastes
By Harry Braun
While the Bush administration has covered-up the participants in White House energy meetings and those who forged intelligence documents that were used as a justification for war in Iraq, the most serious cover-up in the Bush administration involves radioactive wastes. DOE scientists admit that for many years the containers that have been used to store the wastes have rusted and been leaking into the natural environment In many cases, containers were not even used. According to the EPA (The New York Times, March 28, 1991), the engineers who built the nuclear weapons in the 1950's dumped over 127 million gallons of highly radioactive wastes, into the ground just a few miles from the Columbia River, the 4th largest river system in the U.S., which flows into the Pacific Ocean.
In the July 4, 2003 issues of The New York Times, reporter Matthew documented how it took a federal judge to stop the Bush administration's attempt to have the Department of Energy (DOE) change the definition of millions of gallons of highly toxic radioactive wastes that have been leaking from rusted containers near Hanford, Washington. The original plan was to clean out the tanks and then solidify the liquid wastes into glass logs, which would then be shipped to some deep geologic repository, presumably Yucca Mountain. However, "major technical problems and cost overruns" in the billions of dollars caused Bush administration to simply redefine the waste and simply "cover up" the problem.
The ethical implications of creating radioactive wastes are impossible to comprehend.
Yet we continue to make more day-by-day.
By changing the definition of the waste to "incidental," DOE officials argued that the leaking containers could then simply be covered up with dirt and concrete, which means the wastes, such as Iodine 129 will be spreading into the environment for the next 160 million years. Such staggering amounts of time underscore that the ethical implications of creating such insidious poisons are simply impossible to comprehend. Yet we continue to make more day-by-day.
Because of the vast array of unresolved technical issues, there is still no long-term storage facility for radioactive wastes. While Yucca mountain in Nevada is under consideration, there are a wide range of unresolved technical and environmental problems. . Initially, DOE scientists speculated it would take 80,000 years for radioactive isotopes to move through 80 feet of solid rock, but the core samples from Yucca mountain have documented that the radioactive isotopes generated from the nuclear testing in the 1950s, have managed to penetrated through 80 feet of solid rock is less than 50 years.
The real problem for us and our future descendants, is having to store the wastes for the next 160 million years. Given these unresolved and financially irresponsible waste storage problems, and given that every nuclear reactor is a "time-bomb" that will be eventually triggered by corrosion, such plants need to be decommissioned with wartime speed.
For information on how to rapidly decommission the existing nuclear power plants in the U.S., refer to the phoenixproject.net website, or contact H2 Pac at 6128 North 28th Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85016, Telephone: (602) 977-0888.