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Monday, October 09, 2006

Dept. of Energy: 'Boeing Owns the Weather'

Which way is the wind blowing today? Better clear that information with Boeing before you tell anyone -- according to them, it's a trade secret.

According to the L.A. Times, a nuclear accident at Rocketdyne's Santa Susana Field Laboratory in 1959 released nuclear emissions that 'appear to have been much greater than previously suspected and could have resulted in hundreds of cancers in surrounding communities,' a new study found.

The nuclear meltdown, which remained virtually unknown to the public until 1979, could have caused between 260 and 1,800 cases of cancer "over a period of many decades," the study concluded.

But the advisory panel that oversaw the five-year study, conducted by an independent team of scientists and health experts, said it could not offer more specifics about potential exposure to carcinogens because the Department of Energy and Rocketdyne's owner, Boeing Co., did not provide key information.

Why won't they release the information? According to The Center for Media and Democracy, Boeing "refused to provide crucial weather data to enable better modelling of where the radioactive pollution went."

Boeing claims that information is proprietary. "How can you possibly declare a trade secret which way the wind blew on a certain day?" asks Dan Hirsch, a physicist and co-chairman of the advisory panel which conducted the study.

Good question. "Unable to obtain weather data from Boeing, scientists made calculations based on varying assumptions about wind speed and direction and estimated the number of potential cancers at 260, with the rare possibility that the number could be as high as 1,800, within 62 square miles surrounding the field lab," the Times reported.

"These cancers, if they occurred, would have been amidst a population of several million people and over a period of many decades," the report said. "The ability of epidemiological studies to identify these cancers, if they exist, in a population that large, is limited, given the uncertainty of where the exposures occurred."

The Venture County Star reports:

Saying the public has a right to a complete accounting of all nuclear mishaps and toxic spills at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, state and local officials are calling on the state attorney general to intervene.

Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks drafted a letter to Attorney General Bill Lockyer on Friday afternoon asking him to "demand full documentation" of operations at the lab since its opening in 1948. State Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Los Angeles, said she will also press Boeing, the lab's current owner, to "give us the full and accurate picture of everything that has gone on there, in secret, that may have put the community at risk."

Both politicians said the lab has kept vital information secret for years, and has continued to do so under the latest state-commissioned investigation by a panel of scientists.

Among those secrets is, apparently, the weather. Boeing claims it owns the weather and the Dept. of Energy seems to agree.


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1 comment:

Kent said...