« PreviousContinue »
Utah, for example, is a public land State with over 66 percent of the land owned by the Federal Government. We simply do not have the tax base to fund this program on a 25-percent basis.
This funding issue is a critical consideration to the people of my State and other States because of the immediate need to take action with respect to these tailings piles. May I point out that the Salt Lake Vitro site is on a 128-acre tract located only 30 city blocks southwest of our State capitol building. The tailings pile is largely uncovered and subject to continuing wind and water erosion. The most alarming thing is that the site is only partially fenced and is easily accessible to the public.
This represents the largest site in any metropolitan area. The Vitro site is adjacent to the major north-south interstate and is visible from practically any point in the Salt Lake Valley.
While the tailings cleanup should be a Federal responsibility and clearly a Federal program, I feel very strongly that now the States need to be actively involved. They are responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens. They must determine what action is necessary to remove this continued risk. However, I don't for a minute envision each State operating within a vacuum. Any remedial action will have to have the concurrence of the Secretary of Energy.
I want to assure strong local input so we don't have the same problem down the road as we have now because of the lack of State involvement. By giving the State the responsibility for the development of the site restoration plan, you assure protection over the long and short terms to the public.
By way of conclusion, let me summarize the approach of my bill, H.R. 12938, in addressing this problem.
One: Grants 100-percent funding to the States for the direct costs of restoration of these inactive uranium millsites.
Two: State-developed site restoration plan with DOE approval. They will still have to pay anywhere from $1 to $2 million to come up with the site restoration plan.
Three: DOE to undertake remedial action on the sites if the States fail to act within 3 years.
Four: Sites on Indian lands to be handled by the Department of the Interior.
Five: State to assume same 75/25-percent shared cost of offsite remedial action as in the case of Grand Junction.
Six: Pilot study of health hazards associated with contamination in Salt Lake City.
Seven: Authorization of $140 million.
We have done some research, Mr. Chairman and come up with the information that, taking into account the inflationary increases that $140 million would be adequate to solve the problem and we could give to the committee, if it so desires, a breakdown of each location and the projected cost to carry out the program for each location.
Mr. Chairman, I have taken long enough. There are other important witnesses to hear today.
Let me indicate in closing the sites and the problems of radiation exposure have now been identified, specific costs and technical data
are available, immediate action is now, more than ever, necessary, and the Federal Government must assume its rightful responsibility and bear the costs of cleaning up these inactive tailings.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you.
I would like to ask at this time that the record remain open for comments from the State of New Mexico and from the University of Utah Medical School. Apparently those testimonies have been delayed in the mail.
[Testimony resumes on p. 137.]
ÎThe document earlier referred to and letters from State of New Mexico follow:]
IN THE UNITED STATES
ATOMIC ENERGY PROGRAM
ARTHUR E. GORMAN
Dr. ALAN GREGG, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Advisory Committee on Biology and Medicine, gives the key to virtually all the problems of disposal of the waste materials in the Atomic Energy Commission program. In his foreword in the Sixth Semi-Annual Report of the Atomic Energy Commission of July, 1949, he states.
The Commission is charged by law with the exclusive control of materials, equipment, and processes which are unique, constantly dangerous, and certainly not yet sufficiently understood. To this
Dr. Wolman is a Consultant to the United States Atomic Energy Com. mission.
+ Mr. Gorman is a Sanitary Engineer with the Commission.
task is added the difficult circumstance, foreign to most other scientific enterprise, of secrecy. . . .
. . Virtually a second world for study and exploration comes thus into being as a result of
profoundly understanding the laws that govern the phenomena of the world about us—the first world we studied and explored.
The industry for which the Commission is now responsible has
many parallels, however, in the more orthodox industries with which most people are familiar. It takes commonly known raw materials, and by new processes of refinement and conversion it produces old and new materials which have many useful as well as destructive characteristics. The uniqueness of the industry stems, however, as Dr. Gregg has pointed out, from the exclusive control which the Commission exercises, from the secrecy which surrounds many of the processes and decisions, and from the imperfectly understood features of some of the processes and of the effects of their resulting wastes.
The history of most industrial operations discloses perhaps too many instances of the production of wastes with ill effects on people, land, or water. In these more familiar trades, however, effects were visible, frequently measureable, and invariably under some form of continuing public and often official scrutiny. Even in such a situation, the literature is replete with errors of judgment, of undue exposures of man, animal, and plant life, of struggles toward corrective measures and of continual checking and rechecking by disinterested observers. In the atomic energy program, secrecy
makes the waste disposal problem far more difficult of evaluation and of correction.
The industry is concerned with high-energy radiation, having its origin in the core or the nucleus of the atom. The common source, for the moment, of most of the processes is the uranium ore, analogous in many respects to the raw material or ores which might be processed initially in such an industry as steel making. Energy is released from the refined uranium by splitting the aton, with consequent production of high-energy radiation. As far as is known all high-energy radiation has approximately the same kind of effect on living cells and living tissues. Some forms of radiation may cause greater amounts of damage, but the general type of injury is the same.
Unfortunately, the exact mechanism by which radiation harms living molecules, cells, and tissues is not sufficiently understood, although in the last twenty years radiologists have codified the rule-of-thumb methods for working with x rays and radium. As would be expected, many former views are now being revised under the impact of new knowledge, and the margins of safety for protecting man against radiation have been
regularly widened. As a matter of fact, within a period of twenty years the level of radiation formerly allowed has been cut virtually in half. Many activities are under way seeking to provide data upon
which to evaluate the effects of different radiations, and consequently to establish approximate standards and rules, "but, here again, the investigators are deeply aware of a lack of basic, fundamental knowledge of the mechanism of radiation
Problems in radioactive waste disposal arise in approximately the same manner as would be the case in many analogous industries. In the operation of a chain-reacting pile for the production of plutonium, for the production of radioisotopes, for the development of power, or for experimental purposes, the necessity ultimately arises of separating chemically various radioisotopes from the mixture of partially depleted uranium and its products. Separation processes involve the use of large