Radioactive Contaminated Turtles

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Summary Statement

At the Savannah River Department of Energy site near Aiken, South Carolina, USA, a 300-square-mile complex of streams, ponds, nuclear reactors, reprocessing units and barbed wire in the pine woods on the South Carolina-Georgia border, everything from the deer and ducks to the collard greens shows traces of radiation. Swimming through the ponds into which the Energy Department has dumped billions of gallons of contaminated water are turtles, which absorb radioactive tritium, strontium and cesium in their shells and flesh. The radioactivity will outlive the turtle by decades. William H. Lawless, once a senior project engineer in radioactive waste management at the Department of Energy, wrote in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1985 that pond-slider turtles with radioactive strontium levels up to 1,000 times the natural background had been found more than half a mile from the plant border, at a commercial hog farm. To control the problem, fences have been erected to keep turtles from wandering through the most polluted areas and then off the site. In 1950 the Atomic Energy Commission designated the location for the atomic weapons complex which was then called the Savannah River Plant. Within five years, the basic facilities were in operation and plutonium metal and tritium gas were being produced and delivered for atomic weapons. The principal construction and operations contractor was E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company which continued as such until Westinghouse took the reins in 1989. Until the end of the Cold War in 1991, nuclear materials for tens of thousands of atomic weapons were manufactured at the Savannah River Plant. This is clipped from the April, 1992 Alternative Views #466: NO NUKES IS GOOD NUKES (1992). The show featured the outstanding 1991 documentary, "Building Bombs," along with an interview with its co-director-producer. Building Bombs is a 1991 documentary film produced and directed by Mark Mori and Susan J. Robinson. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It dealt with environmental contamination and worker safety issues at the Savannah River Site nuclear materials processing center. The entire film "Building Bombs" is currently available as a DVD at Alternative Views was a public affairs program that produced 563 one-hour TV shows between 1978, and 1998. It's goal was to provide information and perspectives that either were not shown on the regular media or were greatly distorted by them. The show also provided a platform for other people to present their views and to play their documentaries that the Establishment media would not present. This program is available at the Internet Archive.

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