There never was a good war or a bad peace. ~Ben Franklin
Breaking News: Plutonium Stored at KC Plant
Jean writes on SGC local discussion board, in Green Country (Northeast Oklahoma):
Our friends in Kansas City who have been trying to stop an brand new, expensive Nuclear Bomb component plant are shocked to learn that all these years Plutonium was stored at the old Honeywell Bomb factory. They were lied to... Imagine that. Now they have further info to explain worker deaths.......
--- On Wed, 3/30/11, KC nuke plant watch wrote:
Plutonium is stored at Kansas City Plant, according to Department of Energy report
|Thanks, inter-library loan!|
According to a 1994 Department of Energy report, 10 "packages" of plutonium totaling 1.2 grams of the highly radioactive element are stored at the Kansas City Plant.
The report contradicts longtime assurances from the plant's owner, Honeywell, and government agencies including the National Nuclear Security Administration, the General Services Administration and EPA Region 7 that the Kansas City Plant manufactures only non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons.
The report, Plutonium Working Group Report on Environmental, Safety and Health Vulnerabilities Associated With the Department's Plutonium Storage, Volume 1, was obtained by the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Miller Nichols Library via inter-library loan.
The Bannister Federal Complex is under scrutiny due to reports of workers both in the nuke factory and in the neighboring GSA buildings, past and present, who became sick or died from exposure to beryllium and other toxic chemicals used in the plant's manufacturing.
Maurice Copeland, a retired Kansas City Plant worker who has led whistle-blowing efforts seeking compensation for sick workers, wants answers about the plutonium on-site. "Where was it? How many times did it move? Was it in my department?" Copeland asks. "I want to know that. This has to do with my health and my family's health. I should be able to know that."
The Pitch has directed questions to media spokespeople with the plant, its owners at Honeywell, the NNSA, the DOE and EPA Region 7. The plant's NNSA representatives issued this response this morning:
The Kansas City Plant does not process or store special nuclear material. As is common in manufacturing industries, sealed radioactive sources are utilized in analytical devices for quality control and calibration of components. At the KCP, a very small amount of sealed plutonium (less than 2 grams) is used in these types of commercially available tools which are routinely inspected.
David Bryan, the public-affairs specialist for EPA Region 7, tells The Pitch: "Unless the plutonium becomes a waste product, there is no reason for it to be reported to EPA."
Check out this table from the report, titled, Facility materials/packaging information, Sites with small plutonium holdings: [go to original article for the tables]
update 24 July 2011
Anti-nuclear protesters fill a Kansas City courtroom
No jail time for Kansas City nuclear bomb plant protesters
By Frank Cordaro , Des Moines Catholic Worker
Something happened in the Kansas City Municipal Court that doesn’t happen very often. A judge revealed her true self to the court. The judge shared that she too had concerns about nuclear weapons and the new parts plant being built.
As more and more protesters came before Judge Franco, it became clear that she was not going to send anyone to jail.
Should the U.S. government be building more nuclear weapons? Residents of Kansas City, Missouri don’t appear to think so, for they are engaged in a bitter fight against the construction of a new nuclear weapons plant in their community.
The massive plant, 1.5 million square feet in size, is designed to replace an earlier version, also located in the city and run by the same contractor: Honeywell. The cost of building the new plant—which, like its predecessor, will provide 85 percent of the components of America’s nuclear weapons—is estimated to run $673 million.
From the standpoint of the developer, Centerpoint Zimmer (CPZ), that’s a very sweet deal. In payment for the plant site, a soybean field it owned, CPZ received $5 million. The federal government will lease the property and plant from a city entity for twenty years, after which, for $10, CPZ will purchase it, thus establishing the world’s first privately-owned nuclear weapons plant. In addition, as the journal Mother Jones has revealed, “the Kansas City Council, enticed by direct payments and a promise of ‘quality jobs,’ . . . agreed to exempt CPZ from property taxes on the plant and surrounding land for twenty-five years.” The Council also agreed to issue $815 million in bond subsidies from urban blight funds to build the plant and its infrastructure. In this lucrative context, how could a profit-driven corporation resist?
Kansas City residents, however, had greater misgivings. They wondered why the U.S. government, already possessing 8,500 nuclear weapons, needed more of them. They wondered what had happened to the U.S. government’s commitment to engage in treaties for nuclear disarmament. They wondered how the new weapons plant fit in with the Obama administration’s pledge to build a world free of nuclear weapons. And they wondered why they should be subsidizing the U.S. military-industrial complex with their tax dollars.
Taking the lead, the city’s peace and disarmament community began protests and demonstrations against the proposed nuclear weapons plant several years ago. Gradually, Kansas City PeaceWorks (a branch of Peace Action) pulled together the local chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, religious groups, and others into a coalition of a dozen organizations, Kansas City Peace Planters. The coalition’s major project was a petition campaign to place a proposition on the November 8, 2011 election ballot that would reject building a plant for weapons and utilize the facility instead for “green energy” technologies.
The significance of the Kansas City nuclear weapons buildup was also highlighted by outside forces. In June 2011, against the backdrop of the Obama administration’s plan to spend $185 billion for modernization of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex over the next ten years, the U.S. Council of Mayors voted unanimously for a resolution instructing the president to join leaders of the other nuclear weapons states in implementing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s five-point plan for the elimination of all nuclear weapons by the year 2020. It also called on Congress to terminate funding for modernization of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and nuclear weapons systems. Addressing the gathering, the U.N. leader declared that “the road to peace and progress runs through the world’s cities and towns,” a statement that drew a standing ovation.
Even more pointedly, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United Nations, appeared in Kansas City in July 2011. According to the National Catholic Reporter, Chullikat “came to this Midwestern diocese because it is the site of a major new nuclear weapons manufacturing facility, the first to be built in the country in thirty-three years.” In his address, the prelate remarked: “Viewed from a legal, political, security and most of all—moral—perspective, there is no justification today for the continued maintenance of nuclear weapons.” This was the moment, he declared, to address “the legal, political and technical requisites for a nuclear-weapons-free world.” Highlighting Chullikatt’s speech, the National Catholic Reporter declared, cuttingly: “The U.S. trudges unheedingly down the nuclear path. Now more than ever we need to attend to the messages of the often marginalized peacemakers in our midst.”
Actually, peace activists in Kansas City looked less and less marginalized. Nearly 5,000 Kansas City residents signed the petition to place the proposition rejecting the nuclear weapons plant on the ballot, giving it considerably more signatures than necessary to appear before the voters.
Naturally, this popular uprising came as a blow to the Kansas City Council, which put forward a measure that would block the disarmament initiative from appearing on the ballot.
At an August 17 hearing on the Council measure, local residents were irate. “You cannot divorce yourselves from the hideously immoral purpose of these weapons,” one declared, comparing the city’s subsidy for the weapons plant to financing Nazi gas chambers “for the sake of ‘jobs.’” Referring to the Council’s charter, which provided for the appearance of propositions on the ballot when they secured the requisite number of signatures, the chair of PeaceWorks asked: “Are we a government of laws or of . . . corporations and special interests?”
Since then, the situation has evolved rapidly. On August 25, the City Council voted 12 to 1 to bar the proposition from the ballot. The next day, the petitioners went to court to block Council interference. Honeywell, CPZ, and their friends dispatched a large legal team to Kansas City to fight against the citizens’ initiative, securing a court decision that might delay redress for years. In response, Peace Planters seems likely to speed up the process by crafting a new petition—one that would cut off city funding for the plant.
Whatever the outcome, the very fact that such a struggle has emerged indicates that many Americans are appalled by plans to throw their local and national resources into building more nuclear weapons.
update 18 Apr 2012, from Kathy Kelly:
There were other actions this weekend. Many people came together in Kansas City, Mo., for a well-organized session of community building and planning. Lu Mountenay, Mark Kenney, Henry Stoever, and Midge Potts were arrested for crossing the line at a Kansas City factory that manufactures “non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons” and is the size of 13 football fields! The momentum here ensures that there are more actions to come. We all felt very proud of and moved by the people who committed civil resistance, and we were grateful for all the many people who helped the weekend activity happen (who are honestly too numerous to name).
(just a paragraph from a longer article)
Kansas City Activists: City Shouldn’t Finance Nukes
by Rachel MacNair 07-25-2012
Kansas City, Mo., is in a unique position — it's the only city in the country where, this November, local voters will have a say over U.S. nuclear weapons policy.
That’s because the city council arranged a deal to finance a new nuclear weapons parts plant there; local bonds were issued and a local agency (the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, PIEA) owns the plant. This is entirely unprecedented; nowhere else in the world has any entity other than a national government had direct financial involvement in nuclear weapons production.
Several years ago, the federal government decided to close and replace an earlier plant in Kansas City which made nuclear weapons parts — to “modernize” nuclear weapons rather than phasing them out. The old plant, like the new one, makes non-nuclear components, such as fuses and casings, which constitute about 85 percent of the weapons. The city council, anxious about losing jobs if the new plant were to be built elsewhere, arranged the local financing.
This unique set-up offers a unique opportunity. Unlike anywhere else in the U.S., the arrangements enable voters to influence national nuclear weapons policy. A first attempt was made by a local coalition called Kansas City Peace Planters to give city voters a say over the plant, and that hit a roadblock. A second attempt was to give city voters a say over the financing, but the law had placed the bureaucracy which was in charge (PIEA) out of reach of the voters.
One attempt was successful — a proposal that the city make conversion plans for a new product or products to safeguard the jobs in the event that the federal government did decide to abandon the plant. Once the signatures were verified, that one didn’t even have to go to ballot — the City Council passed it unanimously. This could be a good strategy for other cities of the nuclear weapons complex as well.
But while previous contracts can’t be undone, the third round of petition signatures collected enough to put on an initiative on the November 6 ballot. It would prevent Kansas City from doing local financing in the future for any proposed expansions or improvements at the plant. More importantly, a winning vote would also send a powerful message to decision-makers in Washington, D.C.
Plant opponents can anticipate being badly outspent, of course. Being a grassroots group with little money is one of their greatest weaknesses — and one of their greatest strengths. The no-vote government agencies and corporations have one kind of power, but plant opponents have another: person-to-person contact, a chance to frame the issue first, and to put the focus where it belongs — before the barrage of ads with distractions. Local churches are among the most vocal supporters of the measure, and the signature-gathering couldn’t have succeeded without them. Along with colleges, libraries, and civic organizations, there are many gathered groups for the face-to-face contact.
There is also one other major opportunity: the final election before November, the state-wide primary for state-wide offices comes on August 7. This should have high turnout, and offers the last chance to reach and persuade a concentration of people we know vote at a time when they’re interested in information on the next election. This coincides nicely with the annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki anniversaries, a high point for nuclear weapons protest.
July 13th 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Two dozen people were arrested Saturday morning for trespassing at the entrance to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s new south Kansas City complex in a peaceful protest against the nuclear weapons that will soon be built there.
Scheduled for completion sometime next year, the plant at 150 Hwy and Botts Road will replace the current nuclear-bomb-parts plant at the Bannister Federal Complex at Bannister and Holmes, now operated by Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies. The plant does not work with fissile material, although it does make up to 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts of some of the nation’s nuclear weapons.
The protestors were organized by the local chapter of PeaceWorks to coincide with Nuclear Abolition Week, July 6-13. About 100 people gathered at the site, praying, singing songs and speaking against nuclear weapons, before 23 of them crossed the property line and refused to leave, inviting arrest.