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Resource ID: #26189
Subject: Waste Disposal
Source: Wall Street Journal (New York)
Affiliation: 
Date: Oct. 30, Nov. 22, Dec. 11, 21, 30 & 31, 2013

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Description

Today, they have long been converted into parks, office buildings and even hiking trails. But in a remarkable investigation, two of our most intrepid reporters discovered that in these places once stood factories and research centers that the government pressed into service to produce nuclear weapons. A yearlong effort resulted in revelations about what happened to the atomic waste from these facilities and a first-of-its-kind online historical database on more than 500 sites. The government, primarily the Energy Department, has for years assured the public the waste is being cleaned up efficiently and with no harm to anyone. It plans to have spent an estimated $350 billion before the work is done. But despite all this funding, as reporters John Emshwiller and Jeremy Singer-Vine discovered, the government hasn't been able to find even the exact address of some of these facilities. Records on other sites are so spotty no real determination can be made on the next step. And 20 of the sites that were initially declared safe have required a second, and sometimes third, cleanup over the years. Thanks to an effort that married 21st-century Internet analysis with old-fashioned reporting, online readers can now enter their ZIP Code to get a full history of any site near them. The detail of this database—including hundreds of documents, corporate photos of factories and interviews with current property owners, most of whom had no idea of their property's Cold War legacy—makes for helpful and at times alarming reading. Not surprisingly, almost a half a million online hits were recorded in the first weeks after our project, called Waste Lands, was published.

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