The Atom: What to Do with the Waste

The barrel, hauled up by fishermen trawling off the New Jersey coast, came from an area where radioactive waste material had been dumped for safe disposal.

Before long, rumors swept New Jersey that the barrel was radioactive—and that the fishermen had been dangerously exposed. At that point, agents of the Atomic Energy Commission turned up to examine it and check back on detailed reports of dumpings. The findings: the barrel had been filled with a white compound substance; it was not radioactive and never had been. "We spent a lot of money doing it,"...

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