2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 28 Jan 2003 15:08:07 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Radioactive Dump on Wildlife Refuge Raises Liability Concerns
 
Hawaii
Radioactive Dump on Wildlife Refuge Raises Liability Concerns
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26  In the 1950's and 60's, the United States Air
Force conducted 12 test launchings of nuclear missiles on tiny Johnston
Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. In 1962, two of the shots were aborted and
the missiles exploded over the runway, drenching the area in radioactive
contaminants.

In November, 40 years after those two failed missions, the Air Force
finished burying thousands of cubic meters of plutonium-contaminated
waste in a 25-acre landfill on the atoll. In 2004, the military is to
leave the atoll, which was designated a wildlife refuge in 1926, in the
care of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

But the Fish and Wildlife Service is worried about potential liability
from the radioactive dump and is not particularly enthused about the
duties of caring for the atoll, a nesting ground for green sea turtles,
a habitat for 300 species of fish and an essential resting ground for 20
species of migratory birds.

The wildlife service's regional director, Anne Badgley, wrote to the
military in July that the plutonium-contaminated waste in the landfill
"should be shipped off-island to a radioactive waste facility."

So before the Defense Department can turn over the property, it has to
negotiate with wildlife officials the delineation of responsibilities in
case the landfill erodes or is breached and the toxic material leaks
out.

To view this article, copy and paste the following URL into your
browser:
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/27/politics/27ATOL.html?ex=1044765984&ei=1&en=c25467a760f8c567

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