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Air Force radioactive waste that drew protests in California finds home in Idaho

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.”

Rebuilding Hope

Video: Fairchild airmen deliver aid, forge relationships at Kyrgyzstan preschool.

Idaho loses in F-35 bid, Utah, Vermont chosen

Idaho has lost out in its bid to land a new F-35 mission at Gowen Field in Boise and at Mountain Home Air Force Base, a decision by the U.S. Air Force that Idaho’s congressional delegation called “disappointing.” They noted, however, that Gowen Field remains in the running for an expanded mission for operations of the  C-27J cargo aircraft, and that Idaho’s bases aren’t out of the running for future F-35 missions.

In a joint statement, Idaho’s senators and congressmen took issue with the Air Force’s conclusion that additional construction costs that would be needed in Idaho tilted the decision away from the state. “That determination is disappointing because all of the sites chosen will require new construction to accommodate three squadrons,” the delegation said. “Other benefits should have factored into the decision besides initial cost savings.  We will be taking a close look at the data used to reach this decision to ensure it was a transparent and apolitical process.” Click below to read the full joint news release from Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Idaho Reps. Walt Minnick and Mike Simpson.  

Rape trial’s crime scene is military facility

National security questions have been raised during the Spokane rape trial of a civilian contractor who, according to court testimony, took a woman he just met over the Internet into one of the military’s most secure facilities.

Asked outside the courtroom Wednesday if the U.S. Air Force had requested that she refrain from talking about features inside the facility, Deputy Prosecutor Sharon Hedlund said: “They are working with us.”

Read Tom Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

June 8: Fairchild survival center rape trial begins

Dec. 4: Rape suspect faces more charges

Nov. 3: Out on bail, accused rapist pleads not guilty

Oct. 21: Man accused of rape at Fairchild Air Force Base