b'C HAPTER N INEH O T S T U F FHeck, we werent afraid of it. You just had to be schooled in it. I knew theHPs were looking out for us.Clyde HammondD public. Popular Mechanicsmagazine, suggest something. Upon taking a votefor example, described Hanfords hot at the end of this discussion, the majorityr. Richard Doan garbage in one of its 1955 issues. decided that each lab should solve wasteand John Horan, director of the Health Using the sort of exaggeration that dis- disposal problems in its own way. T h eand Safety Branch of IDO, were in mayed scientists, the article tried to get AEC went along with this democraticWashington, D.C., to address a JCAE the point across: Desert soil soaks up idea. By the time Bill Johnston tooksubcommittee studying industrial the deadly wastes with sponge-like cha rge of the Idaho station, nothing had radioactive waste disposal. rapidity, and earth particles trap and fil- changed, so the NRTS evaluated itsRepresentatives from the AECs nation- ter much of the radioactive material on options without reference to prescrip-al laboratories and from private indus- the way down. In the late 1940s, tions emanating from Wa s h i ngt o n . 3 tries described for the committee the Argonne scientists in Illinois packedpractices and standards prevailing at waste into special containers and With reactors going critical at thetheir sites. It was 1959. The hearings thought about placing these in aban- NRTS, radioactivity became a part ofwere part of a series that had begun two doned salt mines or rocketing them into daily life and had to be understood,years earlier with inquiries on the outer space. 2 controlled, and minimized. Radioactiveeffects of fallout from nuclear weapons waste of various kinds was going to betesting. Judging by their questions, the generated. It would come in the form ofcommittee was interested in the grow- solids, liquids, and gases. Like anying volume of waste, the consequently other hazard, it could be managed safe-growing costs of managing it, and its ly if it was respected. The task ofimpacts on the environment. 1 inventing the testing station wasnt fin-ished until all waste had a destination.The disposal of radioactive waste Not only did workers have to be pro-already was a subject the public knew tected, but also the nearby populationsomething about. During the Manhattan and the environment they all shared.Project days, Hanford had committedsolid and liquid waste to the ground, a For solids, the IDO decided to employ apractice that relied on the ion-exchange landfill. IDOs Division of Engineeringcapacity of the soil to hold radionu- The AEC in its early years took little and Construction developed a set of cri-clides and keep them from migrating interest in waste disposal and declined to teria and asked the USGS to find amore than a few inches from their establish uniform policies for its labora- good spot. It should be at least tensource. The practice continued during tories. In 1948 the AEC asked its labora- acres. Fifteen to twenty feet of sedimen-the 1950s and was reported freely to the tory directors to meet together and tary overburden should lie over the lava7 4'