We Put the Unclear in Nuclear
Potentially deadly uranium spill in Tennessee kept secret
As part of its model for a newer, more relevant form of democracy in the 21st century, the U.S. government in 2004 clamped down on the public’s access to information on all things nuclear, for so-called national-security reasons. Hidden in the big ol’ nuclear hidey-hole: news of a leak of highly enriched uranium at a nuclear fuel processing plant in Tennessee that could have caused an uncontrolled nuclear reaction (aka, a world of radioactive hurt). The leak was just one of nine problems since 2005 at privately owned Nuclear Fuel Services, which has most recently been turning the U.S. government’s weapons-grade uranium stockpile into commercial reactor fuel. Over nine gallons of highly enriched uranium seeped out of a transfer line onto the floor and was first noticed by a passing employee when the yellowish liquid seeped into the hallway. The company was not fined for the incident, but instead was asked to review its “safety culture.” Hmm, maybe it’s time for cultural revolution.