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Come and Get It - Free Plutonium Sludge to Fertilize Your Organic Garden

Back in 1999 Joe Harding told the Washington Post, "Everything was so safe, so riskless [at the Paducah enriched uranium gaseous diffusion plant]   We know the truth, I can feel it in my body." Harding is no longer alive; he's one of the workers who died of cancer.

At the height of the Cold War in 1952, 1,800 men and women labored in hot, stadium sized buildings turning trainloads of dusty uranium powder into material for bombs, Joby Warrick wrote on August 8, 1999.

However, plant management claimed that workers were safe due to an "insignificant amount of plutonium" processed at the Kentucky site. The workers were not monitored.

From 1953 to 1976, the Post said , 103,000 metric tons of used uranium were sent to Paducah arriving in freight cars as fine black powder. Left from the plutonium -making process, "fission byproducts like technetium-99 and heavy metals known as "transuranics": neptunium and plutonium (which according the then Institute for Energy and Environmental Research is 100,000 times more radioactive per gram than uranium.)

Workers were told respiratory protection was optional, they almost jokingly "salted" their bread in the cafeteria with green uranium dust, and when they got out of bed in the morning their linens would glow green.

Unfortunately, Paducah represents only one of many Atomic Energy Plants where "waste" such as the plutonium was a Cold War secret. The Post at the time of their report could not obtain records of how much plutonium made its way through the plant. As an indication, 12 ounces of plutonium in black powder delivered twice the radiation as 61,000 pounds of uranium. Where did the uranium go? Between 1952 and 1987 , all 61,000 pounds flowed from the plant and into the Ohio River.  


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