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Toxic, radioactive waste sites in California, KC, St. Louis, Idaho

Ann Suellentrop, of the PeaceWorks Board, spoke at the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance Aug. 6 about nuclear weapons and nuclear energy waste. Here are excerpts from her talk.

I’d like to read from an article by James Heddle published July 26 in Counterpunch, “The Ethics and Politics of Nuclear Waste Are Being Tested in Southern California.” The article is about the shutting down of the San Onofre nuclear energy plant in Southern California, but it starts out with a general description of the entire U.S. nuclear enterprise. It expresses our situation clearly and eloquently:

“For more than 70 years—for my entire 77-year lifetime—nuclear waste has been building up at nuclear weapons and energy production and waste storage facilities across the US and around the world. The most basic tenet of the nuclear religious cult’s belief system over that entire time has been a cheery ‘Don’t worry. Be happy. Methods and places for isolating these manmade materials, toxic to all life forms, will soon be found to isolate them from the environment and all future generations for longer than human civilization has yet existed. Or, better yet, we will find a way to transform them into benign and productive forms to benefit our own and all future generations.’ Despite decades of research by the best minds of the species and billions of dollars of public and private wealth invested, that has not happened.”

Mr. Heddle is telling the truth.  Containing and storing the contamination is a huge problem.

A new group in Kansas City called the Coalition Against Contamination started forming this summer to link Kansas City and St. Louis efforts to deal with contamination [created from nuclear weapons production]. Kansas City has produced so-called “non-nuclear” parts for nuclear weapons since 1949. In 2013-14 they moved to the new plant [in south KC MO]. There are plans to demolish the old plant at the Bannister Federal Complex on Troost and Bannister Road. This month the Missouri governor will possibly sign off on the plans for the federal government to transfer the title of most of the Bannister property to a private company, Centerpoint. They plan to remove some of the contamination (they can never fully clean
it up) and build new businesses on the site.

Meanwhile, a whistleblower from the federal program that is supposed to compensate sick workers from nuclear weapons plants like the Bannister one has spoken out this summer. He said that the program was knowingly and willfully cheating the workers from getting medical care and compensation. As a result of KC citizen activists’ call for an investigation, the number of toxins revealed at the plant was increased recently from a few hundred in 2010 to over 2,000 now. So we need to keep on pushing for the truth!

I’m on the board of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a network of 30 US grassroots organizations [including PeaceWorks] that advocate for those affected by their local radioactive and toxic waste. ANA came to Kansas City in about 2006 to warn us the Kansas City Plant was going to close and build a new plant, the first new nuclear bomb plant in the US in 32 years. ANA helped us file a lawsuit against the federal government’s plans, which delayed the new plant about a year. Now ANA is helping activists in Oak Ridge, TN, sue to stop the [nation’s] second new nuclear bomb plant being planned there. Every spring ANA lobbies Congress in DC, and we have a fall meeting at one of the nuclear production or storage sites around the country. This Oct. 11-14 we will meet in Idaho and tour the Idaho National Laboratory. It is one of three massive nuclear waste storage sites in the US. Two other Kansas City activists will be going with me, and if you would like to go, contact me at 913-271-7925.


Photo above: “We need to keep on pushing for the truth!” says Ann Suellentrop, addressing about 70 persons Aug. 6 at PeaceWorks’ annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance at Loose Park in KC MO.
— Photo by Mark Semet

Man hanging origame peace cranes.