The Pocatello-based Idaho State Journal quietly uncovered a major admission by the Department of Energy this week: that maybe it poisoned some of its workers.
They’re not exactly coming out and saying so, but they’re acknowledging as much by their actions:
The DOE, which operates the Idaho National Laboratory, a nuke weapons lab in the desert outside of Idaho Falls, just started offering free health screenings to current and former workers.
The list of toxins the DOE has exposed its faithful staff to include: asbestos, beryllium, cadmium, mercury, lead, silica and other hazardous materials.
Yeesh! And they wonder why they got more than 400 people interested in the free screenings as soon as they appeared?
But Fred Conner, a retired DOE staffer quoted by the Idaho State Journal, brought us right back to the trust-your-government 1950s with his own interpretation of why he and his fellow workers are getting sick: “We all got old.”
Conner has Parkinson’s Disease. He’s not alone.
The Center to Protect Workers Rights is on the job here. They note that 400 workers in Idaho is just scratching the surface.
These sorts of issues crop up wherever the DOE tinkers with nasty chemicals to make nasty weapons.
Yes, give props to the DOE for figuring out that it had a role to play, and owes its workers some answers. What workers do with their answers is the next challenge.