Earlier this month, nuclear waste containers from Los Alamos National Lab were found to be leaking dangerous levels of radiation. The containers hold used equipment like gloves, clothing, and tools that are disposed of after interacting with radioactive substances. The storage facility in question, the “Waste Isolation Pilot Plant”, has been increasingly used after forest fires in 2011 came dangerously close to Los Alamos’ unprotected waste dump. It’s been speculated by environmental officials, that the absorbent kitty litter used to keep moisture away from 500 drums of radioactive waste may have caused a chemical reaction, breaching the containers. Officials running the cleanup effort have stated that it could take up to three years and no less than 18 months, for operations to continue at the facility.
If this all sounds a little familiar, you’re not suffering from deja vu. Last February the same facility suffered a similar breach that ended up contaminating 21 workers. I would at least commend Los Alamos’ efforts to move these substances to a safer facility, if it weren’t for the fact that the facility and its surrounding area is littered with oil wells:
“The 16-square-mile WIPP site is surrounded by more than 100 operating oil and natural gas wells within a mile of the boundary…Fracking also is being done around the site, so there is some likelihood of fracking fluids penetrating areas at or near waste emplacement.”
Have the people in charge of our nuclear waste lost their minds? It would appear that our ability to safely dispose of dangerous substances is slowly becoming on par with the former Soviet Union. Alas, I would argue that their minds were never fully accounted for in the first place. The United States Government has a long history of irresponsible and short sighted behavior when it comes to radioactive materials.
As early as our government began using nuclear materials, they’ve given it all the respect of a plaything. From the end of World War Two until the Nuclear test ban treaty was signed in 1963, numerous nuclear detonations in the Nevada desert and Pacific Ocean wrecked the environment and contaminated untold numbers of people. The fallout from the Nevada Test Site may have killed thousands of Americans across the Western United States.
But the dangers didn’t end with the test ban treaty. At Lawrence Livermore Lab in California, they continue to fire off components of America’s nuclear arsenal. The famed “Site 300” where most of these experiments take place, is loaded with depleted uranium (which has been used with reckless abandon in America’s wars) and tritium. Mind you, this area is surrounded by the densely populated Bay Area, and the contamination has been known to find its way into the ground water and surrounding neighborhoods.
At least these cases were due to accidents or negligence. They pale in comparison to cases of deliberate radioactive exposure to U.S. citizens. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. veterans have been used as guinea pigs during nuclear testing. They even forced U.S. troops to stand unprotected, beneath a nuclear air burst to take pictures of the blast.
In one of the most horrific examples of nuclear testing, government scientists fed and injected unsuspecting hospital patients with plutonium, many of whom were there for routine procedures. While many say the government didn’t know the dangers at the time, if you have the stomach to read some of the accounts from the survivors, it’s obvious that those scientist running the experiments were the most vile and absolutely wicked people in the government’s employ.
So unfortunately, none of the news coming from Los Alamos is really that surprising. Our government’s negligence and cruelty has become tiresome and par for the course. The United States has shown time and again, that it does not care about the health of its citizens. At it’s worst, it has repeatedly treated us like lab rats and cockroaches. Don’t ever take your eyes off of this dangerous system, lest you become a victim of its carelessness.