This news should definitely be of concern to Idaho residents:
By Jill Kuraitis, 4-30-08
The U.S. Army is shipping 6,700 tons of contaminated sand to Idaho from Kuwait. It will arrive at American Ecology in Grandview, Idaho, sometime in May.
Grandview, population 470, is 42 miles south of Boise in Owyhee County.
The sand is from Camp Doha in Kuwait, a former Army warehouse complex used by Army Forces Central Command. The sand absorbed depleted uranium when some spent ammunition was caught in a fire.
It’s also contaminated with hazardous levels of lead, according to the two military guys who told me the story, whose branch and names won’t be used for obvious reasons. However, it’s no secret, since the story had already been written by Erik Olson in the Longview, Washington Daily News.
Chad Hyslop, spokesperson for American Ecology, did not return New West’s phone calls, but he told Olson that all the sand will be at the disposal site in Grandview sometime in May.
It will take 76 rail cars to run half the sand to Idaho, and then a second trip will be required for the rest. 152 of the smallest size rail cars would build a four-story structure about the size of half a football field.
Andrea Shipley, the executive director of the Snake River Alliance, an Idaho-based grassroots group with a mission to watchdog the energy industry and energy-related government departments, doesn’t like the idea of the sand coming to Idaho. She told New West that “this is a major concern. Depleted uranium is both a toxic heavy metal and a radioactive substance creating health risks that may be far more varied than is recognized in federal regulations today. Safe and responsible clean-up is critical to safeguard the health of Idahoans and our environment.”
The lead contamination, which the Army discovered before the ship carrying the sand to the Port of Longview arrived there, was nearly four times higher than the EPA standard for designating it “hazardous.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, even very low levels of exposure to lead in children can cause learning disabilities, and may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, strokes or heart attacks. Lead is also associated with impaired visual and motor function, growth abnormality, neurological and organ damage, hearing loss, hypertension and reproductive complications.
Whether or not humans might be exposed to the contaminated sand, either during transport, unloading, or processing at American Ecology’s Grandview landfill is not clear. No Army official returned calls. Follow-ups to this story will be posted.