Federal officials were indifferent about the possibility that radioactive wastes from the government's Fernald uranium processing plant might be contaminating groundwater despite suspecting that was the case since early 1960, a watchdog group says.

The government received the information through an engineer's report to National Lead of Ohio, the contractor that operated the plant from the early 1950s through late 1985, said the Government Accountability Project.The Washington-based organization cited documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

"It was disgusting. These documents indicate there were problems with these pits, that clay sides were slipping down, that there were cracks in the pits, and materials were leaking into the groundwater," said Tom Carpenter, lawyer for the group.

Nearly 13 million pounds of uranium-containing waste have been dumped into six waste pits since the plant opened in 1951, according to the Ohio EPA.