Illinois historian Eric Mogren now researches bow hunting (according to his university’s web page on him) but in 2002 he wrote an illuminating history of uranium mill tailings (i.e. the sandy residues of mining the mineral). This involves more detail than my general history can cover, but I did enjoy reading this conclusion:
Moreover, the AEC’s persistent focus on short-term, high-level radiation hazards, its favorable interpretation of the scientific evidence regarding the risks posed by low-level radiation exposure, and its self-confidence in its own expertise on all atomic energy matters, including environmental and public health, all worked to divert the attention of agency managers from the explosive public relations disaster arising from mill tailings pollution. Above all, atomic technocrats had a difficult time resolving the tailings issue because they were convinced that they had anticipated and resolved radiation-related health dangers. “The depth of their commitment,” noted Herbert Simon, “prevented them from considering objectively whether the evidence was on their side.” Yet farsighted wisdom was exactly what was required to manage the long-term hazards of uranium mill waste.Mogren, Eric W. 2002. Warm Sands: Uranium Mills Tailing Policy in the Atomic West. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, p. 75.