Potentially deadly nuclear leak hid from public
Tenn. plant’s violations kept secret in the name of national security
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A three-year veil of secrecy in the name of national security was used to keep the public in the dark about the handling of highly enriched uranium at a nuclear fuel processing plant — including a leak that could have caused a deadly, uncontrolled nuclear reaction.
The leak turned out to be one of nine violations or test failures since 2005 at privately owned Nuclear Fuel Services Inc., a longtime supplier of fuel to the U.S. Navy’s nuclear fleet.
The public was never told about the problems when they happened. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission revealed them for the first time last month when it released an order demanding improvements at the company, but no fine.
Did you read that?
The public was never told about the problems when they happened.
So thousands of people, perhaps more, were in possible serious danger and they were never told, never given any option to protect themselves.
In 2004, the government became so concerned about releasing nuclear secrets that the commission removed more than 1,740 documents from its public archive — even some that apparently involved basic safety violations at the company, which operates a 65-acre gated complex in tiny Erwin, about 120 miles north of Knoxville.