The Latest Bounce

  The Defense Department needs to do a better job cleaning up its "formerly used defense sites," according to a report to Congress from the General Accounting Office (HCN, 3/31/03: While the nation goes to war, the Pentagon lobs bombs at environmental laws). The study, requested by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., points out a variety of problems, including a lack of cooperation between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency in charge of cleaning up the sites.

It’s more than just a bunch of guys who like to hunt elk: From its modest beginnings in 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has become a group of political movers and money-raising shakers (HCN, 5/27/02: Elk conservation group sharpens its ax). In April, the foundation sent a letter to President Bush, asking him to remove "ubiquitous" gray wolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act. Then in May, the group selected a new CEO: Peter Dart, the former executive director of the Safari Club International, a hunter advocacy group with 45 million members worldwide.

The proof is in the lettuce, but don’t ask the Environmental Protection Agency about it: In April, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group released the results of a study of perchlorate levels in winter lettuce (HCN, 4/28/03: Cold War toxin seeps into Western water). The chemical’s levels in lettuce averaged four times that which the EPA recommends as safe for drinking water. The EPA has responded to the study by imposing a gag order on its scientists, preventing them from talking to the press or the public about perchlorate contamination.

The Energy Department is getting ready to lay off more than half the security staff at Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, just outside of Denver (HCN, 1/15/01: Hot property: A former nuclear bomb factory gets caught in suburban turf wars). The department has been shipping plutonium off the site since it was shut down for safety violations in 1989. Officials say the layoffs — which will affect about 100 workers — will save the federal government $20 million a year.
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