POSTED: 5 JANUARY 2007 12:00pm HST

HI Airports to irradiate produce

symbol required on label of food packaging that indicate that the contents have been irradiated

by Audrey Hill on 5 January 2007 in

When stepping off the plane at Honolulu International Airport, tourists and returning residents expect to be greeted with leis, sunshine, and tropical beaches. Yet, if a Hawaiian produce export company has its way, a food irradiation facility will be built right next to the airport to greet disembarking passengers.

This facility would use cobalt-60 to irradiate produce for export. Not only would this dubious venture bring radioactive material to an airport, with its risk of aviation accidents and terrorist threats, but it would also be located in a tsunami evacuation zone and near many military bases. For these reasons, and others, Earthjustice Hawaii challenged the proposal on behalf of a local grassroots group, and was able to ensure that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conduct an environmental assessment of the proposal.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission just released their draft environmental assessment of the proposed food irradiator, and found that it would pose "no significant impact." This environmental assessment is disappointing, as it seems to minimize several serious concerns about the proposal (such as terrorist attacks), and relies almost exclusively on information and data supplied by the operator of the proposed facility. The Honolulu Advertiser weighs in against the NRC's flawed environmental assessment, and its failure to consider alternative sites, noting: "There's nothing gained by either side in an environmental dispute when laws aimed at providing a full analysis of the facts are marginally observed."
What to do now? If you are in Hawaii, attend the NRC's public meeting where you can submit oral and written public comments:

Meeting Date: Thursday, February 1, 2007
location: Ala Moana Hotel
410 Atkinson Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814, Hotel
phone: (808) 955-4811

Informal Open House: 6:00-7:00pm
NRC Overview Presentation: 7:00-7:30pm
Question and Answer: 7:30-8:00pm
Comment Session: 8"00-9:00pm

Can't make the meeting? We will send an email with instructions, as well as post updates on our site, on submitting public comments to the NRC, which are due by February 8th.

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