Garbage In, Garbage Out

Ohio ships nuke waste to Texas, and Texas ships Swift boat swill to Ohio

It seems like a even swap to me: Ohio dumps its toxic nuclear garbage on Texas, and Texas dumps its toxic Swift-boat propaganda garbage on Ohio.

And the same guy, Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, is carrying out both operations.

For some reason, few news outlets even mentioned in passing that the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Vets and P.O.W.'s for Truth, one of many Section 527 "electioneering" committees, raised $3.6 million in only nine days late last month, a whopping $2 million of which came from longtime GOP donor Simmons (and $1 million more from legendary corporate raider Boone Pickens).

Latest figures show that electioneering committees nationwide are pumping more than $200 million into media blitzes on behalf of—or against—Democrats, Republicans, and ballot issues. (Check out OpenSecrets.org's 527 Committees page and its Swift Boat Veterans for Truth page.)

Nick Anderson of the Los Angeles Times pointed out yesterday that the Swift Boat Veterans committee "spent about $600,000 to criticize Kerry's Vietnam War–era protests on cable TV and broadcasts in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Nevada."

Back in August, former National Guard absentee George W. Bush declared from his Texas ranch, concerning John Kerry's war record, "I think Senator Kerry served admirably. He ought to be—he ought to be proud of his record." Bush also criticized Section 527 committees in general as "bad for the system."

So are radium 226, a carcinogen thought to cause bone and nasal cancer, and thorium, which is linked to cancer of the lung, pancreas, and blood.

That deadly stuff is now stored in Fernald, Ohio, but its containers are decaying and probably leaking. (Take a tour of the "Feed Materials Production Center," as it was known for years in an effort to fool local residents into thinking it was a harmless feed plant, instead of a uranium-processing plant for nuclear weapons.)

Simmons has long wanted to give this dangerous stuff a permanent home in Texas. (Bush liked the idea when he was Texas governor.) You can learn all about Simmons in "A Radioactive Recipe for Profit" in Mother Jones and "Simmons Would Make Billions, Sticking Texas With Nuke Liability" in Lobby Watch. Lobby Watch's glowing summation of his bidness career, during which he's poured money into Bush's campaigns: "Billionaire corporate raider Harold Simmons controls Contran and Valhi, holding companies that run an empire of sugar, manufacturing, metal, chemical, oil, real estate, insurance, and other interests."

It figures that one of Simmons's committees that funnels money to politicians is named CONPAC. You just can't make this shit up. You can't get rid of it, either.

Officials in Nevada and Utah have sternly rejected the federal government's attempt to move the Ohio radioactive waste to their states. Texas, on the other hand, is welcoming it. Waste Control Specialists, one of Simmons's companies, wants to store this stuff—which includes waste from the Manhattan Project—in Andrews, Texas, near the New Mexico border. The dream is to make this spot a national dumping ground for nuke waste.

"I think that most Texans don't know anything about this," the Sierra Club's Margot Clarke told Scott Streater of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "They don't know that truckloads of nuclear waste are going to be on our highways from all over the country coming to West Texas."

Streater reported Sunday on the latest formal application by Simmons's company to import tons of uranium waste from Ohio. Company officials are sanguine—veep Dean Kunihiro says, "We don't feel that either the environment or public health is jeopardized in any way"—but environmentalists' blood is already boiling—even though that's not expected to happen to a lot of people until the nuke waste is transported to Texas and starts leaking. Clarke told Streater: "It's obvious that stuff poses a danger. Otherwise, why would other states work so hard to prevent it from coming there?"

Why is she so worried? Maybe because Texas officials have already determined, as Streater reports, that "the company's 4,000-page application lacks required data on the impact of potential accidents and information on the socioeconomic makeup of the area."

The company is also seeking a permit to import other radioactive waste, prompting Texas legislator Lon Burnam to tell Streater, "This process is going to essentially guarantee that we will become the nation's nuclear waste dump."

Well, you dumped Bush on us. It's the least we can do for you.

 


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