DOE Halts Plutonium Shipments to Livermore Due to Unfit Containers

Gandy Marley Cites Terrorist Attacks for Triassic Park Delay

* The Department of Energy (or DOE) announced this week that it would no longer seek to ship plutonium from Rocky Flats, Colorado to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California in controversial DT-22 canisters. This is a victory for Tri-Valley CAREs, a California-based activist organization who filed suit to stop the shipments after the DT-22 canisters failed the government's "crush test," which means that they could rupture in a highway accident. Tri-Valley CAREs was represented by Earthjustice.

Generally, the federal rules that require the crush test are used to ensure the safety of containers being transported by boat, therefore, containers are expected to withstand being crushed between a freighter and a dock. Because the plutonium from Rocky Flats is being transported by road or rail, many DOE managers believed that the crush test did not apply to the Rocky Flats shipments. According to some of the documents that Tri-Valley CAREs acquired in support of their suit under the Freedom of Information Act, some of DOE's own engineers had voiced concerns regarding the safety of the DT-22 canister, citing several incidents in which the canister may be crushed. DOE has decided, however, that the test does apply, and now must pursue other options for transporting the waste.

Marylia Kelley, of Tri-Valley CAREs, said "The DOE's reversal is good news and represents an important win for public health and the environment." Tri-Valley CAREs uncovered the scheme to use the uncertified canisters by obtaining documents in which DOE granted itself a national security exemption in order to ship the plutonium.

Jessie Roberson, DOE's Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, issued a memo to DOE's Rocky Flats office to inform them that DOE no longer plans to ship excess plutonium from Rocky Flats to Livermore. In a statement, Roberson said that her agency wants to "move forward, rather than engage in unnecessary and costly litigation from environmental groups...."

Tri-Valley CAREs is pleased with the results of their complaint. Kelley said, "A major goal in filing the lawsuit was to prevent [DOE] from hauling deadly plutonium across the country in unsafe, substandard containers. It looks like we have succeeded in that goal."

Gandy Marley Cites Terrorist Attacks for Triassic Park Delay
Gandy Marley Inc., (or GMI) this week cited the September 11th terrorist attacks for the delay of the construction of the Triassic Park hazardous waste facility near Roswell. The dump, which was permitted by the New Mexico Environment Department (or NMED) on March 18th, has been in the planning stages for nine years, and is expected to cost $18 million dollars GMI told the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County that the permit came too late for construction of Triassic Park to begin. Dale Gandy, president of GMI, said, "September 11th stopped the waste cleanup business."

Triassic Park would be the first hazardous waste dump in New Mexico and would accept such wastes as mercury, lead, benzene and PCBs. The dump would span 480 acres east of Roswell. Triassic Park would accept waste from a radius of hundreds of miles, including Texas and Mexico.

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