2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 13:51:13 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] "Nuclear Cleanup's Fallout"

To view the entire article, go to 

Nuclear Cleanup's Fallout

TONAWANDA, N.Y. A bleak industrial site cluttered with rusting trash bins
and danger signs sits next door to the elementary school here, a
radioactive relic of the race to build the atomic bomb. The site concealed
a secret uranium plant during World War II, processing ore from Colorado
and Congo for the historic Manhattan Project. Now it
conceals a contaminated mess, a wartime legacy of low-level nuclear waste.

The Army Corps of Engineers, the nation's largest and most energetic public
works agency, is supposed to fix that mess. In September 1997, after a
late-night flurry of political machinations, Congress transferred the
radiation cleanup program for Tonawanda and 20 similar sites from the
Department of Energy to the Corps. Eager to take on
the $140 million-a-year mission, Corps officials argued that their agency
was "a natural for the job."

But in Tonawanda, a gritty suburb of Buffalo, the Corps may be making an
environmental and political mess of its own. The agency's $28 million
cleanup plan for the site would allow radioactive uranium
levels at least six and possibly 30 times higher than any other such plan
in history; state and federal regulators say they have never seen a weaker
proposal. New York's health department warned that
the site may need a radioactive materials license--after the cleanup.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency has launched a criminal
investigation into early disposal efforts in Tonawanda, probing whether the
contractors hired by the Corps mishandled waste and even manipulated data
to disguise radioactive material as less dangerous garbage. California
regulators are investigating, too; they claim that
more than 2,000 tons of Tonawanda debris was buried illegally at a San
Joaquin Valley dump without a federal radioactive waste license. On
Wednesday, a Senate committee will hold a hearing on the broader
Corps decision to dispose of many of its Manhattan Project leftovers in
such landfills.



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