Saturday, October 17, 2009

NYT 10/15/09 In Nuclear Cleanups, Not Even Rabbit Droppings Can Be Ignored

At the Hanford nuclear reservation, even rabbit droppings can trigger Geiger counters. Radioactive rabbit feces are found with detectors mounted on a helicopter and are tracked with GPS to be picked up for disposal as low level radioactive waste. The Hanford site produced 2/3s of the plutonium used in the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal from WW II until the 1980s. Rabbits were attracted to contaminants because they were in the form of salts. Rabbits aren't the only animals affected, mice, badgers and turtles also became carriers of radioactive particles. Technicians monitor rodents and waterfowl for radiation. Even tumbleweeds can absorb radioactive material because of long roots. It just shows how much of an impact nuclear weapons have on the environment and on wildlife in surrounding areas.

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