Bush Scandals List

210. An unreported leak of highly enriched uranium

The invocation of national security can be used to cover so many faults. On March 6, 2006, there was a leak of 35 liters of highly enriched uranium at the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Erwin, Tennessee. If this material had pooled anywhere to a depth of a few inches, a nuclear reaction would have ensued with subsequent release of radiation and potential for (non-nuclear) explosion and fire. As it was, the plant was closed for 7 months. Neither the public nor the Congress was informed until an annual report 13 months later in April 2007. As a result of the accident, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) modified the facility’s license in a confirmatory order dated February 21, 2007. By law, such a change requires a period of public comment but the notice for public comment was itself stamped Official Use Only and not made public. This was pursuant to a memo of August 24, 2004 in which all correspondence whether sensitive or not (including the memo stating this policy) was to be kept out of public view. After talks with staff from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the NRC agreed to re-release its order for public comment.

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