F.A.C.T.S. SHARES ITS THOUGHTS ON NUCLEAR CLEAN-UP

Tonawanda News May 20, 1998
By Don Finch
(Reprinted with permission)

With reference to the story by Joelle Gresock - Staff Writer - Tonawanda News May 12, 1998:

1) F.A.C.T.S. (For A Clean Tonawanda Site), Inc., by unanimous vote of the Trustees, is supporting Mr. William Watson's stand on the "interim" [partial] cleanup of the Tonawanda Site. Who in the Western New York area has spent as much time researching the real truths concerning the radioactive waste problem as have members of F.A.C.T.S. (For A Clean Tonawanda Site), Inc. and Mr. Watson? If there are any persons who have done so, let them come forward and we'll have an open public dialogue. It's time to get the true facts out.

2) At one point, Mr. Calabrese is quoted as saying, "I told Mr. Watson he is a public official in the city and when he speaks he should chose his words carefully," "His words scare people needlessly. He should be careful what he says." The people have good reason to be concerned, now that the truth is slowly coming out. Mr. Watson seems to be treated just as others who speak out are treated. It Would appear that anyone who states the truth usually has to wear the badge of troublemaker, rabble-rouser, etc.

Mr. Calabrese goes on to say that we shouldn't postpone cleanup because, "That money may not be there when the project is perfect and we decide to do it." By this statement, Mr. Calabrese is acknowledging that he (and the other CANiT members) are fully aware that the "interim" [partial] cleanup is not being done as properly as it should be. FACTS has consistently been fighting for a total cleanup so that the genes of future generations will not be corrupted. As it is, it is probably too late for local people to be concerned about gene damage.

But, why can't the cleanup be done properly NOW so that future, unborn generations won't have to suffer, also?

3) County Legislature Chairman Charles Swanick was quoted as saying, "I'm so impressed with the study." "There is no problem there." "I'm satisfied that action is being taken and I support the plans of the Town of Tonawanda to meet guidelines." Whose guidelines, we ask? One of the major points of contention has been that the cleanup DOES NOT meet the applicable standards. Where Mr. Swanick finds that the Town is going to meet guidelines (?) is beyond the understanding of those who are really in the know.

MEDIA

When the TV specials speak of radiation problems, you will hear the names Los Alamos, Hanford, and Oak Ridge mentioned time after time. Yet, Tonawanda is NEVER mentioned. Linde Air Products Company, then a division of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), now known as Praxair, was one of the prime contractors to refine uranium ore used in the production of the world's first atomic bombs. Is there a reason why Tonawanda's problems are NEVER mentioned? Why the concerns of the people and the workers are NEVER mentioned?

THE WORKERS

Talk to the hourly workers at the Linde/Praxair (L/P) facility and ask them how they feel about working in this radioactive contamination for many years. Ralph Krieger, President of Local 8- 215 OCAW (Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union) will be able to tell you the real story. Areas that were once used for production, storage and everyday factory operations are NOW restricted areas and off-limits. Did this high level of radioactive contamination just suddenly appear within the last couple of years? What do you think?

When the Department of Energy (DOE) started to decontaminate Building 14, they said the building would be done in a couple of months. It is now over two years later and the end is not yet in sight. According To Ralph, several million dollars have been spent in TRYING to decontaminate this one building alone!

As each month goes by, another factory worker either contracts cancer or dies of it. Further, In speaking with some residents living near the L/P factory, we've been lead to believe that there is a serious problem. We're surprised that the residents haven't awakened to ask why there are so many cancers in their area. Why are they so complacent? Especially since there will be a considerable amount of radiation left behind.

FACTS has also learned of the total layoff of all hourly employees at the Praxair plant. Sadly, Ralph Krieger reported that all Union personnel on the property are being laid off and replaced. This is being done in the middle of life of the contract. The Union was asked to agree to (in effect) a $27,000 cut in pay. Everything will be subcontracted out. Apparently, it doesn't matter that the subcontract workers will be exposed to the contamination. At least, they won't be exposed as badly as the long-term workers (full-time former Linde/Praxair hourly factory workers) were.

These people are the ones who were exposed to the radiation by working on the grounds and in the buildings. After all these years of exposure, they are now being let go. Do we wonder why? No one will really know who had cancer. In the past, the employees used to have to take extensive mandatory physicals. But now, there will be no more medical surveillance. It would appear that "out of sight, out of mind" will be the rule from now on.

(For further information see F.A.C.T.S. website: http://factsofwny.org Mr. Finch is the Editor and co-Webmaster)

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