Hawley scolds Biden official after comments on Manhattan Project-era radiation: ‘Put up or shut up’

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, criticized Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm after she visited his state and failed to promise to visit radiation victims.

Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, took to X Tuesday, when he wrote several posts criticizing President Biden’s Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. 

His posts were in response to Granholm visiting Weldon Spring, a city in St. Charles County, Missouri, earlier in the day, where she spoke about Manhattan Project-era radiation and how the Biden administration was remediating environmental and health impacts.

“The people of St. Louis have been waiting for answers for years. And all we get is more talk,” Hawley said in a post. “Put up or shut up. Do the testing we have asked for.”

The Republican also urged Granholm to support his amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act supporting victims of Manhattan Project contamination in the St. Louis region.


In July, Hawley introduced an amendment extending the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, compensating those living in particular geographic areas who suffer from diseases associated with long-term radiation exposure.

Radiation from decades of mining, processing and enriching continues to permeate sites used during World War II and the Cold War.

In the 1940s, the U.S. was ramping up its military production to contribute to WWII, which included the government converting farmlands in Weldon Springs into the Weldon Spring Chemical Plant — which produced a massive amount of TNT and DNT explosives for the war effort.

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At the time, the government also launched the Manhattan Project, a massive operation to create the world’s first atomic bomb in a race of innovation and scientific discovery to prevent the Nazi-led Germans from doing the same. 

The process for creating the bomb involved processing and enriching uranium ore, which was done in part at the Weldon Spring site, as it became a uranium production plant. The plant operated from 1957 to 1966, well after WWII ended and as the Cold War heightened.

The nearby St. Louis Mallinckrodt Chemical Company was explicitly used as a Manhattan Project site. The Weldon Spring site is located approximately 30 miles west of St. Louis.

While speaking with reporters at the Weldon Spring site Tuesday, Granholm was asked if she would visit any people personally affected by the cancer-causing radiation.

The Biden official said she would do so “if her schedule permits.” 

Hawley responded, “Gee, don’t let the people of St. Louis poisoned by your agency inconvenience you, Madam Secretary.”

While speaking with reporters, Granholm addressed how the Biden administration would be helping those impacted by the decades-long radiation exposure.


“There is no doubt that we have to clean up these sites,” Granholm told the reporters. “There is no doubt that the testing and remediation is ongoing now.”

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Gesturing to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, the Biden official added, “I am sure the governor agrees, we have to make sure the people feel safe.”

She also highlighted a need for “transparency, a sense of urgency, and working with the community so they understand the testing that is being done and the remediation that is being done.”

Granholm said the Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are assisting. 

Later that afternoon, Granholm visited St. Louis, where she again commented on the radioactive waste and efforts to clean the sites.

“There are a variety of entities in the federal government that are responsible for sites here in the St Louis area, and we want to make sure that we’re doing right by people,” Granholm said, as KSDK reported. “And so it was it’s important for me to get educated about where what the history is, because I know there is a long history here.”

She added, “This was my introduction, if you will, to the situation here, which is serious and which the federal government is taking seriously, and is going to continue to take seriously.” 

Granholm did not say she would support Hawley’s amendment or other congressional proposals to help victims.

“It certainly is something worth looking at for sure to bring justice to families that have been affected,” she said.

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