Christopher Dorner supporters demonstrate in front of LAPD headquarters
by Dana Bartholomew
The protest signs across from LAPD headquarters Saturday read: "Clear Christopher Dorner's name," "RIP Habeas Corpus" and "Blue Code = Obstruction of Justice."
They were hoisted by dozens of demonstrators angered by the police response to the fired Los Angeles police officer accused of killing four people and wounding three others in a revenge rampage across Southern California.
Christopher Dorner, 33, of La Palma, died of a single gunshot wound, possibly self-inflicted, Tuesday as flames engulfed a Big Bear-area cabin, following a shootout with deputies.
"Burning people out is inhumane," said Michael Nam, 30, of Lomita, a Marine combat veteran who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. "For me, I'm not protesting against the department as a whole, but the way this certain case was handled."
The flash protest advertised on Facebook and other social media drew residents from across the Southland to the downtown police headquarters across from City Hall.
Most said they didn't condone the ex-cop's alleged murders - which included two cops, and the daughter of a cop and her fiance - in response to his 2008 police firing.
They said they were angry at how the Los Angeles Police Department fired Dorner after he accused his training officer of kicking a mentally ill man. The LAPD, which has re-opened its investigation, justified its termination.
They said they were upset over how police fired at two pickup trucks that resembled Dorner's, injuring an elderly newspaper woman. The LAPD immediately apologized for its show of force.
They said they were incensed by how police burned out Dorner, who'd been surrounded by legions of law enforcement. Police say they didn't intend to burn the cabin by employing pyrotechnic tear gas.
The protest, which organizers had predicted would attract 800 people, actually managed to draw about 30. In response, the LAPD wrapped yellow tape around its headquarters.
James and Rosa Pedregon, who had read Dorner's manifesto, said he had a good case against his former employer.
"We've been victims: Getting a bad rap at work, getting laid off without notice," said James Pedregon, 39, of Victorville. "What he did was wrong, but we have heart for why he did it."
He said if the LAPD brass had bothered to investigate Dorner's claims, no one would have died as a result.
"Dorner's trainer kicked a guy, they kicked it under the carpet," said Jeff Jones, 40, of Rancho Cucamonga. "The facts are in the documents."
Dina Escoto said she came to support the honest men and women in the LAPD - and to oppose any bad cops on the beat.
"There was some injustice toward Christopher Dorner," said Escoto, 47, of West Los Angeles, a native of Honduras. "I'm angry because the police didn't conduct a thorough investigation - this man wouldn't have gone on a rampage if he was wrong."
"I just think it's sad," added 13-year-old Michelle Alanis, of Los Angeles. "They burned his cabin and killed him."
Nuclear waste tank in Washington leaking
by SHANNON DININNY and MIKE BAKER
OLYMPIA, Wash.—The long-delayed cleanup of the nation's most contaminated nuclear site became the subject of more bad news Friday, when Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced that a radioactive waste tank there is leaking.
The news raises concerns about the integrity of similar tanks at south-central Washington's Hanford nuclear reservation and puts added pressure on the federal government to resolve construction problems with the plant being built to alleviate environmental and safety risks from the waste.
The tanks, which are already long past their intended 20-year life span, hold millions of gallons of a highly radioactive stew left from decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy said liquid levels are decreasing in one of 177 underground tanks at the site. Monitoring wells near the tank have not detected higher radiation levels, but Inslee said the leak could be in the range of 150 gallons to 300 gallons over the course of a year and poses a potential long-term threat to groundwater and rivers.
"I am alarmed about this on many levels," Inslee said at a news conference. "This raises concerns, not only about the existing leak ... but also concerning the integrity of the other single shell tanks of this age."
Inslee said the state was assured years ago that such problems had been dealt with and he warned that spending cuts—particularly due to a budget fight in Congress—would create further risks at Hanford. Inslee said the cleanup must be a priority for the federal government.
"We are willing to exercise our rights using the legal system at the appropriate time. That should be clear," Inslee said.
Inslee said the state has a good partner in Energy Secretary Steven Chu but that he's concerned about whether Congress is committed to clean up the highly contaminated site.
The tank in question contains about 447,000 gallons of sludge, a mixture of solids and liquids with a mud-like consistency. The tank, built in the 1940s, is known to have leaked in the past, but was stabilized in 1995 when all liquids that could be pumped out of it were removed.
Inslee said the tank is the first to have been documented to be losing liquids since all Hanford tanks were stabilized in 2005. His staff said the federal government is working to assess other tanks.
At the height of World War II, the federal government created Hanford in the remote sagebrush of eastern Washington as part of a hush-hush project to build the atomic bomb. The site ultimately produced plutonium for the world's first atomic blast and for one of two atomic bombs dropped on Japan, effectively ending the war.
Plutonium production continued there through the Cold War. Today, Hanford is the nation's most contaminated nuclear site. Cleanup will cost billions of dollars and last decades.
Central to that cleanup is the removal of millions of gallons of a highly toxic, radioactive stew—enough to fill dozens of Olympic-size swimming pools—from 177 aging, underground tanks. Many of those tanks have leaked over time—an estimated 1 million gallons of waste—threatening the groundwater and the neighboring Columbia River, the largest waterway in the Pacific Northwest.
Twenty- eight of those tanks have double walls, allowing the Energy Department to pump waste from leaking single-shell tanks into them. However, there is very little space left in those double-shell tanks today.
In addition, construction of a $12.3 billion plant to convert the waste to a safe, stable form is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. Technical problems have slowed the project, and several workers have filed lawsuits in recent months, claiming they were retaliated against for raising concerns about the plant's design and safety.
"We're out of time, obviously. These tanks are starting to fail now," said Tom Carpenter of the Hanford watchdog group Hanford Challenge. "We've got a problem. This is big."
Inslee said he would be traveling to Washington D.C. next week to discuss the problem further.