By Ann Suellentrop
PeaceWorks KC is a member of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a nationwide network of about 30 grassroots organizations that live in the shadow of nuclear weapons production facilities and near the resulting nuclear waste. As the pandemic has been on the decline in 2023, ANA returned to in-person lobbying in Washington, DC, April 23-28.
The DC Days participants from PeaceWorks KC were Kristin Scheer, myself (Ann Suellentrop), Kimmy Igla, Rose Roos and Luisa Olarte, a delegation of five women. This was the first year for all except me, as it was my 15th year at the ANA DC Days. Two of the KC crew are 26 years old, one is middle-aged, and two are retired. After the all-day training on April 23, our new crew did an outstanding job during meetings with congressional offices April 24-26! And we were so inspired that each of us declares we are coming back next year!
This was the largest KC delegation in a decade, so we were able to visit offices of both senators from Kansas (Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall) and Missouri (Eric Schmidt and Josh Hawley) and offices of both representatives from the Kansas City area (Sharice Davids and Emanuel Cleaver). We even met with Sen. Hawley and Rep. Davids briefly in person and took pictures with them! We asked many questions about the health and safety of the workers at the former and at the new KC nuclear bomb parts plants. It seemed that Rep. Davids appreciated hearing a new view about the toxicity very likely left behind in the closing of Bannister Federal Complex. By coincidence, Sen. Hawley was introducing a bill “Justice for Jana Elementary” to investigate and clean up radioactive waste found at a St. Louis grade school, which is now closed. Hawley’s interns escorted us as VIPs to watch the vote in the Senate chamber!
During DC Days, we learned a great deal about the plans to spend 2 trillion dollars over the next 30 years to completely remake all US nuclear weapons and about the woefully inadequate budget to clean up the massive nuclear waste across the country. We saw a film, In the Dark of the Valley, about the highly contaminated Santa Susana Field Office near Los Angeles, which is causing children’s deaths. A mother in the film who is leading the fight to get the site cleaned up, Melissa Bumstead, and her 13-year-old daughter—a two-time cancer survivor—were present at the showing. At the ANA spring meeting April 27-28, following DC Days, a lawyer from the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Geoff Fettus, gave a presentation on the need for a permanent deep repository for all the many metric tons of plutonium the US has made and continues to make.
One of the new KC crew, Kimmy Igla, 26, is organizing a poetry showcase fundraiser for PeaceWorks KC at Blip Roasters in the West Bottoms, at 1301 Woodswether Rd, KC MO 64105, Saturday, May 6 from 2 to 6 pm. We want to inform young people about nuclear weapons issues and invite them to participate in our annual march and protest rally at the National Security Campus (NSC) on Memorial Day, May 29, from 11am to 1pm at Highway 150 and Botts Road. For more info, call Ann at 913-271-7925 or see www.peaceworkskc.org.
—Ann Suellentrop serves as a vice chair of the PeaceWorks KC Board, is part of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and is a former leader of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. © 2021, Ann Suellentrop, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.