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Monday, October 12, 2009

You think your neighbor's dog is bad?

Our unruly acquaintance along the Columbia River to the northeast, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, is one of the most dangerously polluted sites in the world. It's so bad out there near the Cold War bomb factories that the wildlife on the sprawling complex drink nuclear waste and become radioactive. Their poop becomes radioactive, too. I am not making this up.

And so get this -- they just spent $300,000 of federal stimulus money picking up some radioactive rabbit droppings, assisted by a helicopter spotter. "Roger, we've got some serious plutonium-rich bunny turd at 2 o'clock, over." Only in America.

Comments (14)

We might only pick it up in America, but I'd bet you there's some high-grade scat of various types around Chernobyl.

"In America, you pick up radioactive bunny poo; in Soviet Union, radioactive bunny poo picks up you!" --Yakov Smirnoff

This definitely deserves a laugh or two, but I have to wonder how radioactive that rabbit scat is. More importantly, I'm wondering how radioactive the rabbits are. Does Elmer Fudd have a HAZMAT suit in hunter's colors?

My Dad's family grew up downwind of Hanford (my grandfather worked there) and they drank the milk from cows pastured downwind from there too. All of the members of the family have had cancer. 3 cases of prostate cancer and a kidney removed from cancer out of four people. I wouldn't be surprised that there are other ecological effects this many years later in the surrounding areas!

Does Elmer Fudd have a HAZMAT suit in hunter's colors?

"I hope da wabbits aren't wadioactive!"

I wonder if this rabbit ever spent any time near Hanford.

From a story here.

I have a hard time finding humor regarding anything about the leaking nuclear waste at Hanford. DOE has admitted that it's reached the groundwater. In time they'll admit that it has reached the Columbia River, too.

They've admitted that it reaches the Columbia a long time ago.

The "how radioactive are those bunnies" is kinda missing the point, as it means that there has been such a breakdown of barriers to the spread of contamination that it has now entered the terrestrial food web where the top predators are ... ta-da, us! (We've known that contaminants are in the aquatic food web for some time.)

Once you get a bunch of hot bunnies then you've got it being spread by coyotes, hawks, and eagles, and all the carrion feeders who feed off rabbit, coyote, hawk and eagle carcasses, and the spread just gets wider and wider every year, with more opportunities for deposition into food destined for human consumption in agricultural areas.

Many of the contaminants of concern are alpha and beta emitters -- normally non-threatening as they won't even penetrate skin or a piece of paper (respectively), unless, of course, you ingest them. But wait, um. . .

"Duck season!"

"Wadiation season!"

OK, now everyone go out and get a copy of Margaret Attwood's books Oryx and Crake and her latest The Flood.
Just don't read them at bedtime and expect to get any sleep!
Hint...in Attwood's tale the bunnies are green!

Everyone knows that green is the color of toxic chemical waste (a la "The Toxic Avenger" and many other fine films), not radioactive waste.

"It's not radioactive! It's a Cherenkov Blue!"

"How radioactive is it?" "It was so radioactive..."

Actually, this old blurb from a January 2008 OPB "Oregon Field Guide" might have some clue:

"When the sun goes down over the sagebrush prairie of Eastern Oregon, tens of thousands of jackrabbits come out. Yet in the same type of habitat in Eastern Washington's Hanford Reach, jackrabbits are almost nowhere to be seen."

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