Lies that glow in the dark

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The Independent Culture
Nuclear energy, as any right-thinking marketing person will tell you, is totally safe. Zyklon B was totally safe too, as long as it stayed in its canisters. And if it's really such a benign thing, how come governments always dump its by-products in areas of low, and usually low-income, population?

Encounters: "Radioactive Reservations" (8pm C4) follows one Ron Eagleye Johnny, a Paiute tribal judge, in his quest to find out more about the government's latest plan to pay Indian tribes to allow their reservations to act as nuclear waste dumps. Some tribal councils are keen on the idea: where there's muck there's brass, after all, and there are millions of dollars for someone to make.

But which someone? The American Indian doesn't have a happy history where toxic substances are involved. After years of mining uranium on the minimum wage, the Laguna Pueblo tribespeople are dropping from cancers. The Sioux, who share their island reservation in Mississippi with a power station, are holding an Ugly Fish Contest to garner evidence of fish with extra fins in the river. And Nevada Senator Richard Bryan is concerned about storing such powerful toxins in one of the US's most active earthquake zones. As Paiute Shoshone elder Donald Barr says: "If it's safe, why don't they put it right behind the White House?". Indeed. But presidents are no doubt as prone to nimbyism as anyone else.