Tag Archives: USA

Energy Department drops appeal of fine for Hanford waste handling

From Mike McGavick, Monday, October 9, 2006
RICHLAND, Wash. — The federal government has dropped its appeal of a $270,000 fine over the handling of radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear reservation, two years after the fine was first imposed.
The issue arose in 2004 when the Department of Energy shipped 83 drums of laboratory equipment, protective clothing and other debris, which was contaminated with Hanford waste, to Hanford from South Carolina’s Savannah River National Laboratory.
The laboratory had tested treatment methods on waste samples from Hanford’s underground tanks, which hold 53 million gallons of hazardous chemical and radioactive waste left from decades of plutonium production for the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal.
Federal law allows the waste to be shipped to South Carolina for study and returned to Hanford, exempting it from provisions of state and federal hazardous-waste regulations. But the state contends those exemptions do not apply to waste generated at Savannah River – debris such as equipment, clothing and supplies that may have been contaminated in the testing process.
Waste brought to Hanford also falls under state regulations for hazardous waste, which mirror federal regulations, state officials said.
The state fined the Energy Department and two contractors for not following regulations, which include requiring trained workers observe the packing of the drums, verify the type of waste and place a tamper-resistant seal on the drums.
The Energy Department contended that the waste produced during laboratory testing could be returned to Hanford under an exemption that allows waste residue to be returned after offsite testing.
However, the agency has dropped its appeal of the fine.
“We felt it was time to move on,” said Colleen French, an Energy Department spokeswoman.
The Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board had agreed with the state Department of Ecology, finding in a summary judgment ruling that the 83 drums could not be considered residues from the original waste stream.
The penalty was the largest ever that the state had issued to the Energy Department, which manages cleanup of the highly contaminated Hanford site. The fine was paid by Fluor Hanford, a contractor hired to clean up parts of the site. The Energy Department still must consider whether it is a reimbursable cost under Fluor’s contract.

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US Government Shields Anderson

Though we at bhopal.net can’t claim to have encountered it personally, there apparently exists a widely held belief that all stand equal before the law. On March 2nd, US Attorney General John Ashcroft declared the US government to be a guarantor of this equality. “It is the honor, the duty, and responsibility of the United States Department of Justice to ensure that no one stands above the law”, he intoned solemnly, “regardless of power, position, or privilege.” At precisely the same time, a considerably less hypocritical Ashcroft, resident of an altogether more candid parallel dimension, added, “oh yeah, with the exception of anyone named Warren Martin Anderson.”

Continue reading US Government Shields Anderson

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Recent Bhopal talks at US colleges

Berkeley, April 14, 2004: Rashida Bee and Champa Devi, two survivors of the Bhopal disaster, and Sathyu Sarangi, a longtime activist for justice in Bhopal and managing Director of the Sambhavna Clinic, spoke at the University of California, Berkeley in an event organized by the Association of South Asian Political Activists and the South Asian Development Alternatives Network. Rashida Bee spoke movingly about her personal experiences during the disaster, recounting how she had looked at thousands of the dead, trying to find her seven lost family members, and the subsequent deaths of six of her family members to cancer caused, she says, by their gas exposure. More than 50 students attended the event, during which the survivors also discussed the international campaign for justice in Bhopal, and their hopes for the coming year.

See this page for photos:

Penn State, April 6, 2004:

Diane Wilson, a longtime activist for justice in Bhopal, among other causes, spoke to students at Penn State University. The World Affairs Forum, sponsored by the International Hospitality Council as part of its Community Outreach Program, invited Wilson to share her past 15 years of experience as an activist. About 40 students attended the event.

Wilson, a mother of four, became an activist after she learned that the bay near her hometown of Seadrift, Texas, was threatened by pollution. As a fourth-generation fisherwoman, she and others in the town depended on the bay for their livelihood.

“A fisherman with three kinds of cancer handed me an [Associated Press]article saying that my county was number one in the nation for toxic disposal,” she said. “I had never had that kind of information before.”

Wilson recounted how her activism has taken her throughout the world, including Bhopal. One of her most painful learning experiences came while she was riding a bus in India, she said. “There was a man running after the bus I was in, yelling, ‘Testify! Testify!’ He shoved a white piece of cloth in the bus window,” she said. “The cloth was covered in blood and contained pictures of dead babies. It was my first painful growth.”

One of the students who attended the talk, Simon Lobdell, said Wilson is inspirational. “It is a pretty awesome thing to see people take on pollution through direct action like Diane Wilson,” he said.

To learn more about Diane Wilson and her past activism for Bhopal, click on the links below. To read about her talk in the Collegian, Penn State’s student newspaper, click here.

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Bhopal survivors arrive in the US

April 22nd – Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, gas affected survivors and leaders of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karamchari Sangh (Bhopal Gas Affected Women’s Stationery Workers’ Union / BGPMSKS), and Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action arrived in Texas, US today for a 40 day tour. During their tour, Rashida Bee and Champa Devi will visit various communities affected by Dow Chemical, and also engage in strategic discussion with support groups to strengthen their struggle for justice. The survivors will also be confronting senior executives of Dow and shareholders at the company’s annual shareholder meeting with Dow’s pending liabilities in Bhopal, on May 8th in Midland, Michigan. Mrs. Champa Devi stated, “It’s been two years since we first met with Dow officials in India, and in this time we’ve not received a single concrete proposal on how they’ll address their responsibilities in Bhopal. So long as babies in Bhopal nurse on mothers milk that contains toxic chemicals, DOW’s name will remain internationally associated with corporate injustice.”

See the survivors’ full tour schedule and press statement here.

Find Tour information resources here.

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