Tons of Waste Shipped to Idaho from Kuwait
Snake River Alliance News Release
May 1, 2008

Contact: Andrea Shipley
Email: [email protected]

6,700 tons of contaminated sand with depleted uranium and lead from Kuwait will be coming to American Ecology in Idaho this month. American Ecology Idaho’s Grand View facility, located 70 miles southeast of Boise in the Owyhee Desert, treats and disposes hazardous waste and non-hazardous industrial wastes and low-activity radioactive material.

The shipping vessel BBC Alabama arrived at the Port of Longview in Washington on April 26th with 306 containers carrying the contaminated sand from Camp Doha, a U.S. Army base in Kuwait. In 1991, during the Gulf War, there was a fire at the camp, detonating many rounds of depleted uranium ammunition, known for its armor piercing ability. The accident polluted the sand not only with depleted uranium, but officials are now finding concentrations of lead that are nearly four times higher than the EPA standard that triggers a hazardous-material designation. There is no information as to whether the Army knew about the lead contamination prior to the sand being shipped from Kuwait.

Snake River Alliance executive director, Andrea Shipley said, “The fact that this was shipped with hazardous levels of lead and this was not exposed until it came to the port in Washington is a major concern. Idaho authorities, particularly DEQ, must continue adequately monitoring this waste to know exactly what will arrive in Idaho. Safe and responsible clean-up is critical to safeguard the health of Idahoans and our environment.”

“Depleted uranium is both a toxic heavy metal and a radioactive substance creating health risks that may be far more varied than is recognized in federal regulations today. When depleted uranium is exposed to the elements it becomes volatile, so the safest and most responsible clean-up is essential.”

“Most importantly, the use of depleted uranium in armor piercing shells and bullets shows an inextricable link between the reusing of nuclear waste and warfare. There is no viable solution for nuclear waste at this time.”

Because the facility is located on a major rail line, US Ecology Idaho’s rail transfer facility arranges service from anywhere in the US. It has a long history of waste management using EPA guidelines.

The Snake River Alliance is Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and advocate for clean energy.