Editorial: When it comes to shipping radioactive materials, somebody needs to know
It has been happening for a long time. It has been happening in our backyards. On the roads we drive. In proximity to schools.
The federal government hasn’t told anyone they are doing this either.
Radioactive materials, specifically plutonium, have come into proximity of all of us as the government has shipped it along the state’s highways on the way to storage in Nevada.
Plutonium is a radioactive, silver metal that can be used to create or destroy. It is a radiological hazard and must be handled with specialized equipment and precautions. Animal studies have found that a few milligrams of plutonium per kilogram of tissue are lethal.
Our editorial board isn’t worried about this element exploding as it is transported. Some of it is medical waste, some of it is spent materials. What we are concerned about is that no one was told that there was a material being shipped on our thoroughfares that can kill everything it comes in contact with.
That people have to have specialized training and handling equipment to get near it.
That a miniscule amount is toxic and lethal.
If something were to ever happen to these shipments, we would be unable to properly respond. Especially when no one, not even our first responders, knows that the shipment is there.
Some may reason that the Prescott area is not close to the state’s interstate system. However, we drive these highways regularly and detours often bring their traffic through our communities.
There would be no way to respond to an accident with plutonium. The federal government would likely not be forthcoming when it comes to containing the problem, and if none of our safety officials knows plutonium is in the mix, they could easily come into contact with these radioactive materials.
The Daily Courier’s editorial board understands that there is a national security risk in telling others these shipments are happening. That the more people who know about something, the easier it is for someone who is looking to cause harm to find that information.
However, we are at risk.
It is our water, our children, our health that are being put at risk, and we have a right to know. The federal government should never hide that from us.
We, as citizens, have a right to know the dangers we could face.
— Adapted from an editorial by the Kingman Daily Miner, a sister publication to The Daily Courier