Former workers at a nuclear bomb factory may soon get a cold shoulder from the U.S. Department of Energy. In 1993, Congress created the Former Worker Medical Screening Program to notify and test nuke workers who might be at risk for health problems (HCN, 11/24/03: Cold war workers seek compensation). But the screening program for Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where 100,000 workers were identified as "at-risk," will expire in March — despite the fact that researchers have only located about 20,000 of the at-risk workers.
The U.S. Forest Service didn’t
break any laws when it paid a public relations firm
$90,000 to help out with its Sierra Nevada "Forests with a Future
Campaign" (HCN, 3/29/04: Follow-up). According to a recent report
from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the agency did not
violate a federal law that prohibits agencies from distributing
"covert" propaganda: "Because the Forest Service and USDA emblems
and names are prominently displayed on the cover, the government
source is clear to the audience and to readers," reads the report.
Rocket-burning has begun at
Oregon’s Umatilla Chemical Depot. After years of controversy,
test burns and battles with the state over emission standards, in
early September, the Army burned its first sarin-filled M55 rocket
(HCN, 10/28/02: The Latest Bounce). Although the rocket was
destroyed, the virgin run wasn’t without problems: The eve of
the burn, a worker accidentally hit an "emergency stop switch" and
suspended one of the "feed gates" that allow the rocket pieces to
be fed through a chute and into a furnace. Workers temporarily
modified their procedure, completed the burn and reset the switch.
Colorado’s Great Sand
Dunes is a monument no more — it’s now a
national park. Since the 1990s, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S.
Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, Colorado lawmakers
and grassroots groups have pooled their efforts to prevent
water-development companies from staking a claim to the
area’s water and selling it to fast-growing cities (HCN,
2/18/02: Dunes shifts toward park status). According to Patrick
Myers at the park, the area’s seasonal springs "recycle the
sand" as it blows across the San Luis Valley and are necessary to
the long-term health of the dunes.