Now here’s a great way to eliminate evidence: declare them radioactive. And then forget all about the people the radioactivity has harmed.
Ill workers criticize government for burying nuclear plant records
Monday, January 08, 2007
DAYTON (AP) ‹ Former nuclear weapons workers have questioned why the federal government buried records that they say could help determine whether exposure to radiation and other industrial poisons made them sick, a newspaper reported.
About 400 boxes of records from the Mound nuclear weapons plant in Miamisburg were buried in 2005 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The records, which had tested positive for radioactive contamination, were declared a health threat and had little overall value, officials with the U.S. Department of Energy said.
“I find it stunning,” an analyst for a government watchdog group told the Dayton Daily News for a story published yesterday. Richard Miller, of the Government Accountability Project in Washington, said the government should exhume the records, if possible.
About 700 former workers or their survivors have filed 1,143 cases with a federal compensation program for nuclear plant workers, alleging that poisons from the plant caused cancer and other illnesses. So far, $21.4 million has been awarded in 149 cases.
Energy Department spokeswoman Megan Barnett said the records were not pertinent to worker health and no rules were broken. She said documentation shows the records were lab notebooks, scientific records, nonpersonnel X-ray film, accounting files and records on weapons components and production assembly.
The Mound plant, built in 1947, was on a 306-acre site about 10 miles south of Dayton. At the height of production, more than 2,000 people worked there. The plant made plutonium detonators for nuclear weapons, and the work was highly secretive. The plant had a small army of security guards and was ringed by chain-link fencing and razor wire.
When the Cold War ended, the plant discontinued the detonator work but continued to make generators for space probes. The Energy Department ended production in 1996, leaving cleanup of radioactive and hazardous waste as the primary activity.
Mike Gibson, who worked at the plant for 22 years, said he doesn¹t think federal health officials can determine whether illnesses are work-related without knowing what¹s in the buried documents.
“The whole process just has a smell to it,” Gibson said.
Copyright © 2007, The Columbus Dispatch