Follow-up

  Shipping radioactive waste around the country is neither cheap nor easy: When the U.S. Department of Energy shipped the wrong type to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the New Mexico Environment Department slapped the Energy Department with a $2.4 million fine for violating the state’s hazardous waste laws (HCN, 8/2/04: Follow-up). Then, at the end of August, the Energy Department halted shipments of low-level nuclear waste from Kentucky’s Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant to the Nevada Test Site when, for the third time this summer, radioactive waste leaked from the trucks transporting it (HCN, 1/19/98: State fights nuclear waste shipments). The Energy Department has fined Bechtel Jacobs Company, the private company overseeing cleanup at the Paducah site, $200,000 for the spills — two were in New Mexico and one on Interstate 40 in Arizona.



The U.S. Department of the Interior has continued to demonstrate that it is untrustworthy when it comes to Indian trust funds, says U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth (HCN, 8/4/03: The Latest Bounce). In April, when plaintiffs filed an "emergency notice" reporting that Interior had allowed more than 350 boxes of records to be damaged or destroyed by rodents, water and mold, the agency moved to strike that information from the record, saying the reports "have no legal pertinence." But in September, Judge Lamberth denied the motion, saying Interior "deliberately" failed to report the destruction of records and acted "frivolously" by filing its motion. He adds, "The Court is not endowed with powers of divination that would allow it to interpret phrases such as ‘improper record-keeping procedures,’ to mean actual damage and possible destruction of hundreds of boxes of trust records."



There is still time to comment on how the U.S. Forest Service should shape its Roadless Area Conservation Rule (HCN, 8/16/04: Feds pass roadless headache to states). The agency has extended the public comment period to Nov. 15. To read the rule, or to find out how to comment, visit www.roadless.fs.fed.us.