Radioactive waste that the U.S. Air Force couldn't get permission to dump at a Bakersfield, Calif. dump has been brought to Idaho, to U.S. Ecology's hazardous waste site at Grand View, according to California Watch. The non-profit investigative reporting site, which was founded by the Center for Investigative Reporting, reports that the Air Force told California regulators the waste was “naturally occurring,” but they balked - it comes from radium dust left over from glow-in-the-dark aircraft instruments. U.S. Ecology's permit allows it to accept “naturally occurring” waste without notifying state regulators; when Idaho DEQ officials learned of the dumping from California Watch, they inspected the site and determined it didn't matter, because the radium concentrations fell below threshold levels in Idaho's regulations.
You can read California Watch's full report here; the issue has set off a firestorm of criticism in California, where health officials and environmental activists accused the Air Force of bending the truth to get its way. “Illuminated instrument dials do not naturally occur,” Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at UC Santa Cruz who leads the environmental group Committee to Bridge the Gap, told California Watch. “I can’t dig into the soil and discover naturally occurring radium instrument dials.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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