Port Hope: Broken Pipeline releases uranium and arsenic into Lake Ontario

August 14, 2008


Port Hope Ward Two residents demand Cameco Corporation stop dumping uranium into lake

PORT HOPE — Cameco Corporation must be made to stop dumping treated water still contaminated with uranium and arsenic into Lake Ontario from the Welcome Waste Management Facility, says a group of Ward Two residents.

The residents wrote Michael Binder, Ph.D, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission after receiving laboratory tests of water it found pouring out of a broken pipe on a public beach where Brand Creek empties into Lake Ontario.

The tests, done by Caduceon Environmental Laboratories in Peterborough, showed the water was contaminated with uranium and arsenic well above both the Interim Provincial Water Quality Objectives and the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines “but within the limits allowable by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Committee (CNSC)”.

The pipe carries treated water from the Welcome facility maintained by Cameco under licence number WNSL-W1-2339.0/indf., which was renewed for an indefinite period in 2002 by the CNSC. The license contains “no limits” for the release of uranium into Lake Ontario, and it sets arsenic levels that are 100 times higher than Ontario’s water quality objectives.

The Welcome site contains old soil with elevated levels of uranium, arsenic and radium. The pipe dates from 1957, but since 1978 there has been a system in place that is supposed to treat the collected groundwater prior to its discharge into the lake and whether they are illegal given the “… current Ontario Water Quality Objectives”.

The broken pipe was noticed by a pilot flying low over Lake Ontario and he chose to contact a Lake Shore Road resident. The resident has reported the break to Cameco and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and asked those agencies to investigate the questionable discharges.

Results of the tests paid for by local residents closely resemble Cameco’s own 2007 monitoring results from the Welcome pumping station, which are provided to the CNSC and the Municipality of Port Hope on a quarterly basis. The following table shows how those compare to federal and provincial water standards:

Interim Provincial Water Quality Objectives
Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines
Limits in CNSC license WNSL-W1-2339.0/indf.
Cameco monitoring July to September 2007
Resident water tests June-July 2008
(highest of 3)
.005 mg/L
.01 mg/L
.5 mg/L
.005 mg/L
.02 mg/L

(Interim Provincial Water Quality Objectives Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines Limits in CNSC license WNSL-W1-2339.0/indf. Cameco monitoring July to September 2007 Resident water tests June-July 2008
(highest of 3)
Arsenic .005 mg/L .01 mg/L .5 mg/L <.005-.027 .02
Uranium .005 mg/L .02 mg/L none .03-.28 .246

“Something has gone wrong here,” said Sanford Haskill, who owns waterfront property west of the broken pipe. “We are concerned that any toxic contamination is being allowed into the lake, but certainly it should not be happening just a few kilometers from Port Hope’s municipal water intake.”

He said the broken pipe provided the first opportunity for outsiders to test the effluent from Welcome. The pipe was built in 1956. “We hope the contamination indicates a very recent breakdown in the treatment system, and that Cameco quickly repairs it,” Haskill said. “God help the lake if it’s been going on for 40 or 50 years.”

Haskill said he is also concerned about Cameco’s lax scrutiny of its pipeline. “Winter ice is the only force that could have uprooted that pipe and sliced it open, and that means it has been spewing uranium and arsenic onto the beach for four months.

“It shouldn’t be left up to an individual to detect leaks from Cameco, or to uncover the inadequacies of the CNSC’s licenses. In light of what’s happened in the last year, this company simply has to do a better job of eliminating its pollution of Lake Ontario. Canadians and Americans who take their water from the lake should be outraged. This has got to stop.”

He said, he is also concerned that Cameco is not being forced to clean up the thousands of kilograms of uranium, arsenic and fluorides that have leaked into the ground underneath its UF6 plant. Some of it has reached the Lake, but the company says it doesn’t yet know how much.

This month marks the first anniversary of the discovery of that leak, and the plant has been closed ever since.

Contact: Sanford Haskill 905-885-8743.

Council of Canadians E-News – Stop freshwater lakes from becoming toxic waste dumps

July 26, 2008

This is the July E-Newsletter from the Council of Canadians posted here for those who do not receive it:

Stop freshwater lakes from becoming toxic waste dumps

The Council of Canadians has joined with environmental, First Nations and social justice organizations to stop the Harper government’s plan to allow mining companies to use Canadian freshwater lakes as dumping grounds for toxic mine wastes.

Although it is illegal under the federal Fisheries Act to dump toxic material into fish-habitated waters, mining companies have been given a loophole under the government-amended Metal Mining Effluent Regulation (MMER). The federal government is now able to reclassify lakes and other freshwater bodies as “tailing impoundment areas” and can permit mining companies to dump toxic wastes there, destroying the natural habitat forever.

Environment Canada recently announced that under the MMER at least 11 mines in Canada are seeking permission to destroy healthy natural water bodies with their mine waste. Eight of these mining projects are being considered in 2008. The lakes include prime fishing areas and natural watersheds from B.C. to Newfoundland.

The Council of Canadians is calling on the federal government to require mining companies to use existing technologies for managing mine waste, or to invest in new technologies that do not result in the pollution of local watersheds.

Allowing mining companies to use lakes as waste dump sites amounts to a massive subsidy to the mining industry at the expense of publicly owned fresh water resources. The mining industry made a net profit of more than $80 billion in North America in 2007. After the companies’ profits are made, it will be the surrounding communities that will be left with the effects of the damage. Once toxic mine wastes are added to the water, the environmental damage cannot be undone.

“Allowing a lake to be turned into a dump site for a private company is nothing short of privatizing a public resource that is essential to life. Contaminating a water body will have devastating consequences on entire watersheds at a time when the world is dealing with a fresh water crisis,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

For more information about this issue, or to take action by sending a letter to Environment Minister John Baird, please go here.
Here’s more about what’s new at the Council of Canadians:

WIN! War resisters find support from majority of Parliament: resisters still face deportation

Supporters of U.S. war resisters claimed victory last month when, by a vote of 137 to 110, federal Opposition parties in the House of Commons adopted a recommendation that, if implemented, would make it possible for U.S. Iraq War resisters to obtain permanent resident status in Canada.

The recommendation was adopted by a majority of Members of Parliament from the Liberal, Bloc Québécois, and New Democratic parties, while Conservative MPs voted against the motion.

The victory was short-lived, however, as U.S. army deserter Robin Long was deported back to his army base in Fort Knox, Kentucky on July 15, making him the first resister to the U.S. war effort in Iraq to be sent out of Canada. The 25-year-old was unable to sway a Canadian court of the danger he faced if he was forced to return to the United States.

Council of Canadians chapter activist and Board member Bob Ages spoke with The Globe and Mail about the issues saying, “I was just shocked at some things in (the) ruling. It just flies in the face of everything that we and every Canadian know about the reality of what is going on… (Mr. Long’s deportation would be a) terrible precedent for Canada, especially given our history of providing sanctuary for war resisters, over 100,000 draft dodgers and deserters during the Vietnam era…This will be the first time Canada played gendarme to the American military.”

Many Council members and chapters have joined the campaign to ensure that U.S. war resisters seeking refuge from militarism and an illegal war can stay safely in Canada.

While the vote has been characterized as a “non-binding resolution” of the House of Commons, the Council of Canadians believes it is incumbent on the Harper government to listen to the democratic will of MPs and take action on the issue.

For more information about the Council of Canadians’ support for the War Resister campaign go here.

One man’s mission to raise awareness about the SPP

Caution - Nafta at Work
Go here to read more about how Canadians feel about deeper integration through the SPP

Caution - Nafta at Work
Go here to read the latest issue of Canadian Perspectives

Don Parker has travelled many kilometres to raise awareness.

Concerned about the lack of information the general public has received about the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) and the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), Mr. Parker recently contacted the Council of Canadians and purchased 3,000 copies of the Council’s recent report Not Counting Canadians: The Security and Prosperity Partnership and public opinion. Since May he has been visiting municipal and school board offices near his Toronto home to deliver copies of the report. He believes that raising public awareness is key to effecting change.

“If we want Canada to remain Canadian, we must learn more,” he explains. “There have been seminars involving university students from (Mexico, Canada and the United States) who have been meeting together to learn how to think North American? If we are to stop this slippery slide down (…), we must do it from an informed basis.”

Mr. Parker, who is a writer for the independent Dialogue Magazine, and very active Council supporter and member, is particularly concerned about making sure youth also start to think about issues affecting Canada. He has spoken with school board representatives about getting Council of Canadians’ material into high school lesson plans. He also regularly delivers copies of the Council’s magazine, Canadian Perspectives, around his community.

Mr. Parker encourages others to get involved and take action by writing letters and making phone calls to Members of Parliament and provincial politicians, writing letters to the editor of local newspapers, and forming discussion groups to plan actions. “I encourage people to join the Council of Canadians and support them, bearing in mind that membership alone is not nearly enough; there must be positive action,” he says.

To read the report Not Counting Canadians: The Security and Prosperity Partnership and public opinion go here.
To read the latest issue of Canadian Perspectives go here.

Join the Council of Canadians today!

The strength of the Council is in its membership. The Council does not accept funding from corporations or from governments, so membership donations are vital to our activities. We work with community groups, seniors, students, unions and other organizations across the country to promote progressive policies on public health care, fair trade, clean water and other issues of social and economic concern to Canadians. Join the Council today, and help us prove that a better Canada is possible.

Please sign petition against proposed Lake Huron nuke dump!

June 16, 2008

Progress Michigan has launched an online petition against a proposed nuclear dump 1/2 mile from Lake Huron in Canada and a massive oil refinery in Sarnia. Unfortunately, at first, Canadians couldn’t sign the petition. It wouldn’t take the Canadian zip codes. That is all fixed, now and Canadians can sign on!

The nuclear dump will take waste from 20 Canadian reactors and have to store it and isolate it from the environment for hundreds of years. Lake Huron is a drinking water source for millions of people in Michigan.

Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, (along with many other Great Lakes environmental groups,) has been leading the charge against this proposal. The petition will grow the list of supporters standing with them against these risky projects.

You can sign the petition at: www.greatlakesnotadump.com. Please pass the link on to friends and neighbours.

Toxic Nation E-News: the June 2008 issue from Environmental Defence

June 16, 2008

This June 2008 issue of the Toxic Nation E-Newsletter is filled with information that concerns all Canadians who are conscious about their health and environment:

Nasty Vinyl: Toxic Shower Curtians

Bisphenol A: Your Last Chance to Submit Comments

Cleaning Up The House: BPA Founds in Canadian House Dust

Help Ban Pesticides: Ontario-wide Ban Needs Your Support

Signing up/Signing off

Nasty Vinyl: Toxic Shower Curtains

New laboratory tests reveal that the “new shower curtain smell” may be toxic to our health. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic shower curtains purchased at five major retailers in the U.S. all contain avoidable toxic chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates, organotins, and metals. Some of these chemicals are volatile, so they are released into the air inside our homes.

Read the full report: Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell

Download our Guide to Vinyl: shower curtains and other products

The new study reveals PVC, also known as vinyl, shower curtains can release as many as 108 VOCs. Some of these chemicals, such as ethylbenzene and cyclohexanone, are considered a human health concern under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and are associated with developmental damage as well as damage to the liver and central nervous, respiratory, and reproductive systems. Some can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.

The tests looked at the amount of chemicals released into the air when the vinyl curtains were unwrapped from their packaging. It took the curtains roughly a month to stop off-gassing their toxic chemicals, which can have an effect on your health. Some people experience nausea, headaches or are sick due to the smell of the off-gassing chemicals.

Environmental Defence is calling on the federal government to ban vinyl shower curtains and require manufacturers to switch to safer alternatives, such as cotton curtains. In addition, we demand the use of toxic chemicals released from vinyl (e.g. toluene, ethylbenzene, cyclohexanone, methyl isobutyl ketone, phenol, etc.) be regulated in consumer products.

TAKE ACTION ON TOXIC VINYL TODAY! Send a message directly to the government to ban vinyl shower curtains.

Bisphenol A: Your Last Chance to Submit Comments

Wednesday, June 18 is the last day for you and your friends to make an impact on the federal government’s decision to regulate the toxic chemical, bisphenol A (BPA). On this day the 60-day comment period on BPA closes and the government will begin reviewing the comments submitted by the Canadian public, stakeholders, and industry.

Based on Health Canada’s proposal published on April 18, it seems that the government is only interested in regulating BPA in baby bottles and infant formula. In doing so, they will be disregarding the evidence that the lining inside food cans, such as the can of soup in your kitchen cupboard, leach BPA into the contained food. A recent study by CTV and the Globe and Mail showed that higher levels of BPA were found leaching from foods cans then were detected leaching from baby bottles.

Where there is a question of potential harm to humans and the environment, as is true of BPA, we should be taking a precautionary approach instead of asking what level of risk is acceptable- a can of soup or a reusable sports bottle.

Voice your concern on BPA today! Send a message to the federal government urging them to ban BPA in food and beverage containers!

Cleaning Up The House: BPA Founds in Canadian House Dust

Increasingly, people are realizing that the air in their homes might be more hazardous then the polluted air we breathe outdoors in urban areas.

Indoor air pollutants are not regulated in Canada. This is a huge concern, given the release of toxic chemicals we are seeing from products we all have around our homes (e.g. shower curtains, miscellaneous plastic items).

Health Canada’s Indoor Air Quality website is fairly minimal, but even they list chemical pollutants from household and personal care products as major sources of indoor air pollution.

What you might be interested in is The Canadian House Dust Study. No, Health Canada is not judging our sweeping and vacuuming skills;rather they are measuring the levels of chemicals in house dust in Canadian homes.

Even more interesting, is that preliminary data from the house dust study detected bisphenol A in 99% of Canadian households, with average concentrations at 1,600 ppb (parts per billion). (Levels of BPA leaching out of foods cans and baby bottles have ranged in 5-19 ppb)

Although we are not eating dust, a sure bet is that the BPA particles go somewhere (landfill, groundwater, plants, etc.). This points to yet another indication that Canada needs stronger regulations on chemicals, particularly in consumer products, along with increased funding to support further research into the effects of environmental pollutants.

For more great reading on human health and environmental pollutants check out Environmental Health Perspectives online.

Help Ban Pesticidest: Ontario-wide Ban Needs Your Support

The Ontario-wide pesticide ban has just passed second reading. Doctors and groups across the province are working to make the ban as health-protective as possible before it receives final passage. This is our last chance to make sure this bill does everything we want it to!

Please take a minute today to send an email to the Premier of Ontario with the following message:

“I strongly support a ban on the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides, including on golf courses. We need to see a ban come into effect as soon as possible, for our health and the protection of the environment”

Premier McGuinty’s email: dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Phone: (416) 325-1941

Many Thanks!


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Action Alert: Please sign onto “No Radioactive Waste Dump in Heart of Great Lakes”

June 16, 2008
Action Alert
Please circulate the following sign-on statement to your email lists. To sign on, simply send an email to kevin@beyondnuclear.org with your name, title, organization, and full contact information. Individuals are also welcome to sign. Please sign on by noon on Wednesday, June 18th so that we can submit our group comment to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency by the official deadline later that day.
If you’d like to submit additional comments, email them to DGR.Review@ceaa-acee.gc.ca no later than Wednesday, June 18th.
See http://www.acee-ceaa.gc.ca/050/DocHTMLContainer_e.cfm?DocumentID=26204 for additional information.
—Kevin Kamps, Great Lakes United Nuclear-Free/Green Energy Task Force
cell 240-462-3216, kevin@beyondnuclear.org
No Radioactive Waste Dump
in the Heart of the Great Lakes!
The proposal to build a deep underground dump (DUD) for radioactive wastes on the shoreline of the Great Lakes is unacceptable.  Water is the most likely dispersal medium for toxic materials in general, and for radioactive wastes in particular.
Nevertheless, that’s what is being considered at the Bruce nuclear complex on the Canadian side of Lake Huron.  The DUD would be located just over one kilometre (less than one mile) from the Lake, and would house all of the radioactive wastes from 20 commercial nuclear power reactors in Ontario – with the exception of the irradiated nuclear fuel.
It was recently reported that the Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) wants to manage the DUD project.  But the NWMO deals exclusively with the long-term management of irradiated nuclear fuel, and has nothing whatever to do with other categories of nuclear waste materials.  Does the NWMO’s involvement mean that the proposed DUD will eventually become a permanent repository for high-level radioactive waste  —  making it the “Yucca Mountain” of the Great Lakes region?
The Bruce nuclear complex currently hosts nine reactors (one of them permanently shut down), with proposals for four more. This would make it the largest nuclear power complex in the world. Already there are 500 outdoor silos for the “interim storage” of irradiated nuclear fuel about one kilometre from Lake Huron, and there are plans to build 2,000 more.
Since the DUD is only 50 miles from Michigan across Lake Huron, leakage of radioactivity from the dump could directly affect tens of millions of residents in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, and contaminate the drinking water in Port Huron, Sarnia, Detroit, Windsor, Toledo, Cleveland, Erie, Buffalo, Toronto and countless other communities downstream.
Thus, this DUD proposal is not just a Canadian issue, but an international one.  In 1986, Canada protested when the U.S. proposed a high-level radioactive waste dump in Vermont because it was too close to the Canadian border; that proposed dump was subsequently cancelled. Now it is time for U.S. residents to speak out. The Canadian DUD proposal sets a dangerous precedent for the establishment of perpetually hazardous facilities on the Great Lakes, and impacts people on both sides of the border.
The successful emplacement of the DUD for so-called “low” and “intermediate” level radioactive wastes from across Ontario – and potentially from the rest of Canada – will create a threat to the Great Lakes watershed for generations to come. It will also increase the likelihood of the Bruce site becoming a permanent disposal dump for high-level radioactive wastes (i.e. irradiated nuclear fuel), which would increase the risks by many orders of magnitude.
Alarming as this proposal is, the process for assessing its environmental impact is also cause for grave concern.  In Canada, environmental panels reviewing proposed nuclear facilities have always been independent of the nuclear establishment — until now.  But for the DUD, the Government of Canada intends to place the review panel under the control of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) which is the regulatory authority for licensing nuclear facilities in Canada.
Six months ago, the President of the CNSC was fired by the Canadian federal government for being too strict in her enforcement of reactor safety regulations. The new CNSC President has clear instructions to fast-track all nuclear regulatory approval processes. No environmental assessment panel will be credible if it is dominated by this highly politicized regulatory agency.
Despite the conflict of interest, the CNSC stands ready to chair the environmental assessment panel and to fill two of its three positions. CNSC’s domination of the Full Panel Review is unprecedented, and will undermine the panel’s credibility. We urge CNSC’s exclusion from the Panel, so the panel’s independence is assured.
We ask that the public comment deadline be extended for six months beyond June 18th.  Given the longevity and the unprecedented nature of the hazard that the DUD represents for the entire Great Lakes ecosystem, as well as the minimal outreach to the United States and Native American/First Nations that the Canadian federal government has undertaken, this extension request is reasonable.
Gordon Edwards (Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Montreal, Quebec)
and Michael Keegan (Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, Monroe, Michigan)
Great Lakes United Nuclear-Free/Green Energy Task Force
Kevin Kamps
Radioactive Waste Watchdog
Beyond Nuclear
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400
Takoma Park, Maryland 20912

More about Indigenous communities’ resistance to Barrick Gold / Goldcorp Inc. ASM

May 8, 2008

Communities from Australia, Papua New Guinea, Chile, and the U.S. will be speaking over the next month about their resistance to Toronto’s Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold miner.

I had put up a previous post about this, but here is a bit more detail about the itinerary of the international aboriginal leaders. Also of interest are the Goldcorp events later in May in Toronto and Guatemala City. Many Canadian and American citizens are shareholders in Goldcorp Inc. The Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) has over $200,000,000 of investments in Goldcorp.

These events have already taken place:

Sunday, May 4th: Indigenous Voices Against Barrick. Our guest will make presentations, show short films, and answer questions about mining on thier land. Steelworkers Hall. 7-9pm. 25 Cecil. sponsored by Mining Watch Canada, ProtestBarrick.net, Mineral Policy Institute (AUS), Friends of the Earth (AUS) and Western Shoshone Defense Project (U.S.)

Tuesday, May 6th: Barrick shareholders meeting 10am, Rally to express your disapproval of Barrick’s conduct abroad and join voices calling for mandatory regulation to hold Canadian Mining Companies accountable. 250 Front Ave.

Wednesday, May 7th: Film Screening and Speakers. ‘Pascua Lama: a contemportary quest for El Dorado’ with film-maker Prof. Carolina Loyola-Garcia, writer Asad Ismi, and Indigenous guests. 6pm Steelworkers hall. 25 Cecil. sponsored by Toronto the Better, and the U of T Anthropology dept.

This event is taking place later today:

Thursday, May 8th: Photo exhibit ‘Someone Else’s Treasure: Barrick’s legacy in the Philippines, and Other Struggles Against Mining Expoitation’ Photo exhibit by Allan Cedillo Lissner 8pm Leonardo Galleries. 133 Avenue Road ( just south of Davenport). Part of the 2008 CONTACT Photography Festival.

For more information see



Also of interest is the Goldcorp event later in May …


On May 20, Goldcorp Inc. (www.goldcorp.com) will hold its Annual Shareholder Meeting at 2:00pm: Le Royal Meridien, King Edward Hotel, Toronto, 37 King St. E, Toronto.

Building on our ‘Investing in Conflict’ speaking tour, and upon years of critical education and resistance work by groups in Central and North America, Rights Action – in conjunction with organizations and concerned citizens in Honduras, Guatemala and North America – is planning educational and activist events in Toronto and Guatemala, to coincide with Goldcorp’s Annual Shareholder Meeting.

Goldcorp Inc. operates mines throughout the Americas, including the ‘San Martin’ open pit, cyanide leaching gold mine, that has caused a health and environmental crisis in the Siria Valley, Honduras, and the ‘Marlin’ gold and silver open pit mine that is contributing to health and environmental harms in numerous Mayan communities of San Marcos, Guatemala. Both mines operate without community consent; they are depleting and contaminating vital water sources; they are contributing to repression and to community tensions and breakdown.

Unbeknownst to them, many USA and Canadian citizens are shareholders in Goldcorp Inc.

Example: The CPP (Canadian Pension Plan) has over $200,000,000 of investments in Goldcorp. Many other North American investment firms and pension funds are invested in Goldcorp (as well as in other mining, resource extraction and military production industries).

Is your organization/ community interested in planning your educational activities in the days leading up to May 20th and/or coordinating events and activities with Rights Action? Are you interested in organizing a group of people to join a mid-day peaceful information picket at the Le Royal Meridien, King Edward Hotel on May 20th?

For more information about activities being planned in Guatemala City, contact: info@rightsaction.org.

CONTACT: info@rightsaction.org, 1-860-352-2448

www.globalsurvival.ca .

U.S. Army Shipping Contaminated Kuwait Sand to Idaho Landfill

May 8, 2008

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.