From the May 2008 Idaho Observer:
Contaminated Kuwait sand lands in Idaho
Governor claims radioactivity of shipment at par with background levels in ambient Idaho
By The Idaho Observer
Nearly 80 rail cars containing 6,700 tons of contaminated sand from Gulf War I are being shipped by American Ecology Corp. to its hazardous waste disposal site near Grandview, 70 miles southeast of Boise. The sand arrived by ship at Longbeach, Washington on May 12.
The sand was from Camp Doha in Kuwait. Responding to a series of questions posed by The Idaho Observer, Idaho Governor Butch Otter stated, "…it appears that the material in question is well within the contaminant limitations of the U.S. (sic) Ecology permit."
According to Major Doug Rokke (ret.), "Camp Doha blew up during summer and we had conventional munitions, DU, chemicals, biological weapons, tanks, artillery, fuel, all stored in preparation for gulf war II. A fire started and it all blew up leaving a real toxic mess. We [his team] wrote the clean up plan during winter 1992-1993 as no bid contract for Halliburton. We figure that with all of the medical problems the Kuwaiti government told DOD to finally get it out of Kuwait."
The IO asked the governor’s office who collected the sand, who removed it from the site in Kuwait, who loaded it onto the ship, who inspected and sealed the load, who off broke the seal, inspected the contents and authorized the shipment to be loaded onto rail cars, who inspected the rail cars and who is assuming responsibility for the entire operation?
The governor’s office failed to answer those questions but assured The IO that the shipment of sand was transported from Kuwait in special containers that were "…sealed with customs procedures."
The comment is not very reassuring since Customs observes different procedures depending on the type of cargo and the shipper. Since American Ecology was working under contract with the U.S. Army, Customs would not observe the same procedures with the U.S. Army sand from Kuwait as it does a shipment of coffee from Columbia.
The main point of the letter was to assure us that we can trust the government. "…let me assure you that the best science and most assiduous regulation is being used in safeguarding Idaho citizens from this and all other hazardous materials," Governor Otter said.
Considering this was an international shipment, it would have been brokered through the U.S. State Department and Idaho would have "volunteered" to receive the shipment via the U.S. Army and its contractor American Ecology.
Governor Otter claims that, "Dose rate measurements were taken on the surface of the container. Those measurements were between 12 and 14 microrem per hour (uRem/hr). Background from naturally-occurring sources in Idaho is 10 to 15 uRem/hr."
If the radiation levels from the sand were not greater than background levels in Idaho, which are probably less than anywhere in the Gulf at this time, then there would be no reason to ship the sand out of Kuwait. If Major Rokke is right, then the sand is contaminated with toxic levels of other substances such as chemical weapons (biologicals generally do not have much of a shelf life once released).
Governor Otter made reference only to levels of radiation.
The Otter administration, without consent of the people of Idaho, is going ahead with plans to expand uranium mining operations in Idaho and is courting a French company that wants to process raw uranium into plutonium at plants to be built in Idaho.
The point of the previous paragraph is to illustrate that Otter’s Idaho is not really concerned about people and the environment; saying so just sounds good in a letter.