Note 00405: America's Radioactive Involuntary Parks
- Key concepts
- Department of Energy, radioactive
pollution, involuntary parks, remediation, SCIENCE
magazine, economics, abandonment, Competitive
Enterprise Institute, American environmental policy
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- wonk-speak written
in an august, fully peer-reviewed science magazine.
Look, you can finally buy your own Indian simputer.
Let me know if it works.
All the toxins at Love Canal have been grubbed up
or covered with waterproof clay. It's now officially
safe to live on Love Canal now. Yup, hurry right on
Elena's motorcycle rides through the Chernobyl
Involuntary Park are becoming a perennial
Philip Buehler's "Modern Ruins" project.
Kevin Stewart's involuntary-park watch.
Sean Burke is a Viridian in Alaska who
likes to photograph industrial decay.
- Science magazine 12 March 2004
Vol 303 No 5664
"Avoiding Destructive Remediation at DOE Sites"
by F. W. Whicker, T. G. Hinto, M. M. MacDonell, J. E. Pinder III,
L. J. Habegger
F. Ward Whicker, Ph.D, actual no-kidding scientist
The "Risks-Based End States" policy suggestion.
"The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its
predecessor agencies pioneered atomic weapons, nuclear
energy, and peaceful uses of radioisotopes, but
operating practices that began half a century ago left
a legacy of environmental contamination (1) at more
than 100 sites in 30 states covering two million
"FOOTNOTE (1). This contamination includes chemical and
radioactive materials that escaped containment and that
resides in >1 x 10(7) m(3) soil and >2 x 10(12) liters
of groundwater. Chemical contaminants include fuel,
other organic compounds, explosives, and metals.
Radioactive contaminants include longer-lived fission
products such as 137Cs, 90Sr, and 129I (((cesium,
strontium and iodine))) and actinides. e.g. 239OPu
(((plutonium))) and uranium isotopes. Radioactive
contamination concentrated to more than 100 times the
background levels is usually confined to relatively
small areas at or near industrial sites (each probably
less than <10(3) M(3). Lower levels of contamination
can be spread over much larger areas, some of which
include natural aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems."
(((Two million acres, over 100,000,000 cubic meters of
dirt, and over 20,000,000,000,000 liters of underground
water. Kind of a lot, huh?)))
"In 2002, a critical review of DOE's Environmental
Management Program concluded that the cleanup program
for the nuclear weapons program could cost more than
$300 billion, and that more than $60 billion had
already been spent without a corresponding reduction in
actual risk. (2)
"FOOTNOTE 2. US DOE, 'A review of the Environmental
Management Program' (US DOE Washington DC 2002)
(((Where'd the ol' $60 billion go, eh? Federal
contractors, you gotta love 'em!)))
"The environmental cleanup program generally involves
excavation, transport and disposal of soil, pumping
and treating of groundwater, and other engineering
and technological measures.
"Although DOE has the ultimate responsibility for
environmental remediation, site-specific cleanup goals
have been strongly influenced by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), with input from private groups
and local citizens. Cleanup decisions have often been
based on the highly conservative assumption that people
will live on the land for a lifetime and derive their
food and water from the site. Cleanup goals are
usually set to achieve an incremental cancer risk of
<10(4) or lower for the maximally exposed hypothetical
resident. These and other conservative assumptions
translate to cleanup of extremely low levels of
((("The maximally exposed hypothetical resident."
Well, suppose this angry voter who's a local citizen
doesn't even exist? No people, no NIMBY!)))
"The radionuclides of most concern, such as cesium and
plutonium, are found primarily in soil or sediment.
Unreasonably low cleanup criteria for radionuclide
concentrations in these media ((("these media" =
dirt))) thus can lead to unnecessary excavation,
transport, and disposal elsewhere, all of which magnify
costs and cause loss of habitat for fish and wildlife,
as well as reduced biodiversity. Excavation and
disposal destroy plant cover and remove topsoil, which
leads to degradation of biologically rich areas. Such
activities can also impact air and water quality in
distant areas through wind and water erosion.
"For example, most of the wind-aided dispersion of
plutonium-contaminated soil at the Rocky Flats
production plant for nuclear weapons components was
caused by soil disturbance from remediation
activities." (((Cure worse than the disease.)))
"Removal of vegetation cover by wildfire led to soil
erosion and transport of cesium to streams at Los
Alamos." (((This is an intriguing radioactive plus
Greenhouse Wexelblat disaster, given that the massive
wildfires at Los Alamos were caused by climate
"Drawdown of a reservoir caused water erosion of
contaminated sediments at the Savannah River Site,
where material for nuclear weapons was produced and
waste is stored." (((What happens to radioactive
sediments during major Greenhouse droughts?)))
(((Now we get to the good part.)))
"One approach to this problem is congressional action
that ensures continuing federal control of certain DOE
sites and precludes the hypothetical 'site resident'
(((In other words, future America is speckled all over
with congressionally mandated, federally controlled,
permanently abandoned, human-forsaken, wildlife-rich,
radioactive Viridian Involuntary Parks. It's an
official Washington mandate for our vision! And if
it's applied to nuclear waste, why not all such
contaminated sites? It's easier, safer, and
much cheaper for the human race just to give up
trying to clean our own fouled nests.)))
"This would minimize costs, environmental damage,
and, as explained below, human health risks. It would
also allow time for natural processes to attenuate
risks. (((Let Mother Nature do the heavy lifting!
We're too broke! And besides, we basically stink at
"At many sites, radioactive decay of relatively
short-lived isotopes will reduce risks significantly
within several decades. Furthermore, other natural
phenomena will sequester long-lived materials (((the
filth get stuck in the dirt))) and allow degradation
of organic contaminants over time. (((Bugs
eat the stuff.)))
"Aside from huge cost savings, the strategy of
continued federal control and sensible land use
scenarios (((in other words, permanent federally
enforced abandonment))) has significant benefits for
wildlife, biodiversity, and regional air and water
quality. (((Assuming, that is, that the abandoned
woods don't catch fire, spewing smoky contaminants
downwind Chernobyl-style. It also might be a tad
dodgy eating the migratory ducks and catfish that
dabbled in those sediments.)))
"Many DOE sites are a mix of operating and inactive
industrial facilities and waste management areas
(((brownfields and dumps))) surrounded by natural
habitats with little or no contamination. For example,
only 15% of the 198,000 acre Savannah River Site
in South Carolina has been used for site operations;
the remainder consists of dense forest and wetland
habitats that contrast dramatically with the
surrounding mosaic of land disturbed by farming
and residential areas. (((No people, no problems!)))
"Similar contrasts exist for the Hanford Site
in Washington, the Idaho National Engineering and
Environmental Laboratory, the Nevada Test Site,
Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and
other large DOE properties."
(((Get a picnic basket!)))
"Portions of the natural areas that constitute
buffer zones for these sites have been marginally
contaminated by past releases to air and water
(for 137Cs, <100 times the global fallout background)
but their value as wildlife habitat is undiminished
because radioactive dose rates to plants and
animals in such areas are well below existing
guidelines based on reproductive success."
(((You know what us deer, mink, fish and coyotes
need? We need us a nice little nuclear war!
With enough "global fallout background," the
entire planet becomes one big involuntary park!
Us mammals with a short lifespan will do great,
while long-lived creatures (like humans) will
end up with bones and livers that glow
in the dark!)))
"Ironically, it is largely because of this
slight contamination that many areas have
remained undisturbed and now support thriving
ecosystems with no evidence of effects from
radionuclides or chemicals."
(((The only thing "ironic" about this is
how long it's taken the atomic mandarins
at the DOE to realize that they have to
just plain give up. This paper looks
like a dynamic plan of action, but
it's the exact opposite. It's a plan
for benign radioactive neglect.)))
(((This policy will, presumably, require the
establishment of a new American "involuntary
park service," run by DOE or maybe Homeland
Security, who are not park rangers, but armed
security guards, whose mission is to keep
squatters, poachers, loggers, toxic
dumpers, arsonists, nuclear dirty-bombing
terrorists, and other miscreants
from settling and exploiting these new
radioactive Edens. These Involuntary
Park Rangers pretty much are the
"maximally exposed hypothetical residents,"
too, so let's hope they get short
tours of duty.)))
(((A bit more on America's Nuclear Involuntary Parks today:)))
"(...) Par Pond, a 2500-acre impoundment
that was formerly used to cool nuclear reactor
effluents at the Savannah River Site(...)
an ecosystem that includes about 30 lineal
shoreline miles of wetland and littoral vegetation,
an abundant and diverse warm-water fishery,
alligators, bald eagles, osprey, and a large
wintering waterfowl population." (((Radioactive
bald eagles. That's America's heritage all over,
"(...) Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site
near Denver, Colorado, into a wildlife refuge
that is now managed by the US Fish and Wildlife
Service (...) Although less than 6500 acres,
the Rocky Flats site provides sanctuary for
mule and white-tailed deer, coyotes, bald eagles,
and the endangered Preble's jumping mouse (...)
"Some may interpret this approach as simply an
excuse to avoid more extensive cleanup. (((No!
Really? How cynical!))) Further, those having
financial interests in the cleanup
process may resist the concept for fear of lost
revenues (5). There is no question that many
DOE sites and facilities will require cleanup
and indefinite maintenance and surveillance.
However, we believe cleanup decisions, whether
in the United States or elsewhere, should be
based on scientifically rigorous risk assessment
for realistic land-use assumptions that will
protect public health, cut costs dramatically,
and spare valuable natural ecosystems from
FOOTNOTE 5: R. H. Nelson, "From Waste to
- Maintaining Biodiversity on
Nuclear Bomb-Building Sites" (Competitive
Enterprise Institute, Washington DC 2001).
(((Small wonder that the Competitive
Enterprise Institute would champion this
"free-market, limited-government" solution.
Here's the plan: the government shrouds the ruined
earth with barbed wire while the CEI's
industrial backers get away clean, which
is just the way they want it. They are
quite likely to get their way, too.
In the case of nuclear contamination,
most of it was done by the government anyhow,
so this rather makes sense.
(((By no coincidence whatsoever,
these CEI beltway bandits and their "Cooler
Heads Coalition" are some of the most notorious
Greenhouse denial freaks alive.)))
CEI's extensive list of intellectual crimes:
CEI's evil network of Lysenkoist spin:
CEI's financial backers:
"CEI does not publish a list of its institutional donors, but the following companies
and foundations are known to have given $10,000 or more:
Amoco Foundation, Inc.
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
E.L. Craig Foundation
Fieldstead and Co.
Ford Motor Company Fund
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
David H. Koch Charitable Foundation
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
Phillip M. McKenna Foundation, Inc.
Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation
Philip Morris Companies, Inc.
Precision Valve Corporation
Sarah Scaife Foundation
Other known CEI funders include:
American Petroleum Institute
Burlington Northern Railroad Co.
Detroit Farming Inc.
Jacqueline Hume Foundation
Vernon K. Krieble Foundation
John William Pope Foundation
Smith Richardson Foundation
Alex C. Walker Foundation
(((So == given those forces hidden in Washington's policy woodwork, does this sound like a far-out plan
to you? Today's research, tomorrow's reality.)))
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
YOU KNOW WHAT?
"GIVE UP, RUN AWAY FOREVER,
AND LEAVE IT TO THE OWLS"
REALLY IS A PRETTY GOOD POLICY!
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O