Uranium and Lead Kuwaiti’s Sand Heads for Idaho
By Kevin Stoda, in Kuwait
Over the past two weeks, for the first time, news was shared in Kuwait that sand that has been contaminated since the 1991 U.S. Coalition War in Kuwait has now been shipped to U.S. soil and is currently heading to Idaho.
The sand’s contamination resulted from U.S. military vehicles and munitions combining in a combustive accident at the end of that war.
The shipment was undertaken somewhat in stealth after Kuwait first asked for its removal some years ago. The U.S. military had refused to agree to pay for the shipping.
Finally, Kuwait has apparently contracted to have the contamination shipped out.
According to one KUWAIT TIMES article, “The sand coming to Idaho from Camp Doha, the US Army base in Kuwait, was contaminated with uranium after military vehicles and munitions caught fire during the first Iraq war in 1991. Depleted uranium, twice as dense as lead, has been used as a component in armor plating to protect tanks and for armor-piercing projectiles.”
According to American Ecology, the U.S. company subcontracted to ship and store the 6700 tons of led and uranium contaminated sand, “Radiation from the uranium in the sand has been measured at about 10 picocuries per gram. The Idaho facility is permitted to accept material with more than 16 times that level, or 169 picocuries per gram. In a letter to Army officials on Sept. 13, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission deemed the radiation levels ‘unimportant quantities’ and approved the plan to dispose the sand in Idaho.”
One official, working for the storage area in Idaho, noted, "We've received tens of thousands of tons from the US military that has higher radioactive levels than this shipment."
On the other hand, at least one Idaho government employee was annoyed when the shipment arrived in the states.
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Director, Brian Monson, stated “The company is permitted to receive the material and contacted his office three months ago. ‘They always give us an alert if it's something out of the ordinary.’”
According to the KUWAIT TIMES, “the company notified Monson again this week when military officials tested the sand and found traces of lead. ‘It was only until the last hour we realized we might be dealing with a hazardous material,’”
SHIPPING NUCLEAR WASTE FROM MILITARY BASES
The U.S. military has international commitments to bring home its contaminated garbage from bases all over the world.
In this recent shipment of 6700 tons of led and uranium contaminated sand, most officials see more danger to American soils caused potentially by the large amounts of lead—rather than the lower amounts of uranium.
Currently, State Department of Health personnel are at the American port in Washington state “to test radiation levels and to ensure none of the sand spills.” American Ecologly representative Chad Hyslop said.