1998 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Vernon Brechin <vbrechin@igc.apc.org>
Date: Fri, 29 May 1998 10:16:54 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Re: Who is using this Newsgroup?
I am Vern Brechin, an independent researcher who's primary 
interest lies in determining the types and levels of radioactive 
and toxic contamination left on the surface and underground by the 
U.S. nuclear explosives testing program.  Firm figures 
are often not available due to the fact that much contamination 
data remains classified, ostensibly to protect national security.  

At the surface of the DOE's Nevada Test Site and adjacent testing 
areas, over 200 square miles of desert soil are contaminated with 
plutonium at levels which far exceed the cleanup action levels 
that could be applied to residential parks.  Much of the surface 
contamination has existed for three decades and is likely to 
remain a hazard for at least the next quarter million years.  

Beneath the surface are millions of tons of contaminated rock, 
left by 921 nuclear detonations, of which 38% were conducted 
below, or just above the water table.  

In 1988, a CERCLA Preliminary Assessment was conducted to rate 
the nuclear blast areas for their eligibility to be listed as NPL 
Superfund sites.  Not a single site was considered hazardous 
enough to make the Superfund.  

Virtually all this contamination exist on and under withdrawn 
Public Lands which are under the administration of the U.S. 
Department of the Interior.  Unlike many urban Brownfield 
communities, these public lands have little political support 
since their present legal status prevents access by the public.  
Understandably, the resident rabbits and lizards have no say in 
such matters since they have no vote.  One result is that portions 
of these lands have become national sacrifice zones. 

I know little about Brownfield law but, presently, I perceive it 
as a tool used to get around failures in implementing past 
environmental laws and regulations.  I believe that federal 
agencies, which were granted stewardship responsibilities over 
Public Lands and then seriously contaminated them, should not be 
allowed to by-pass their full restoration responsibilities by 
passing these lands back to the public domain in the form of still 
contaminated Brownfields.  Public Lands, which were once pristine, 
should not be returned in a state which is now only suitable for 
perpetual industrial uses.  

Comments would be appreciated.  

Vernon J. Brechin 
255 S. Rengstorff Ave. #49 
Mountain View, CA  94040-1734 

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