NUCLEAR WORKERS: Burial Site May Pose Health Risk
As much as 1,600 tons of nuclear weapons hardware may be buried at a Paducah, Ky., Energy Department site, potentially posing a health risk to workers there, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports. In a memorandum to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Raymond Carroll, a health and safety specialist at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, requested an investigation into the materials' health risks, writing, "I am ... deeply concerned for the safety of personnel working (at the plant)." He added, "Some sanity needs to be put back into the system and personnel safety needs to have commensurate emphasis with national security." Although it remains "unclear what kind of weapon components might be buried at the site," the facility reportedly disassembled secondary components for a variety of bombs during the 1970s and 1980s. According to an anonymous Associated Press source, the components could contain plutonium, highly enriched uranium, tritium or other radioactive materials. Energy Department officials would only say that "'an underground classified storage site' at the facility was being investigated by the department, Pentagon and the Justice Department." An Energy Department report released Thursday admitted that Cold War-era workers at the plant were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and toxic chemicals (Hebert, 2/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.