Posts Tagged Environment

We’re all living downstream

There’s a fable about a village along a river. Villagers began to notice increasing numbers of drowning people caught in the swift current, and went to work inventing ever more elaborate ways to save them. So preoccupied were these heroic villagers with rescue and treatment that they never thought to look upstream to see who was pushing the people in.

How many people have you heard of (or know) who have been recently diagnosed with cancer?   How does this experience compare with your experience of 5-10-20 years ago? “We never heard of cancer when I was growing up,” is a comment I hear frequently.

On one of my frequent forays to Half Price Books, I picked up the book Living Downstream, by Sandra Steingraber, written 15 years ago and revised in 2010.  Sandra is both cancer survivor and ecologist. The book chronicles how the health of the land, air and water in the world we inhabit is inextricably tied to our own health. In the legacy of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, she traces the high incidence of cancer and the terrifying concentrations of environmental toxins in her native rural Illinois. She chronicles similar correlations in communities throughout the United States, where cancer rates have risen alarmingly since mid-century.*

On alternate Mondays in the chemotherapy infusion center, I witness a procession of people coming for their treatment.  I am amazed and grateful beyond measure for the care we receive, and the way that care is given.  A few minutes at the pamphlet rack or in the resource center is cause for marvel at the patient-friendly information and holistic support systems that have been developed to assist people on this difficult journey.

But then I think, where is the outrage?  Where are the well-developed systems to oppose the ever-increasing disregard for human health and well- being as more and more cancer-causing toxins are poured into our environment?  Who has the courage to walk upstream and confront those who are throwing people into the river?

One current example is the move by oil and gas companies toward “fracking.”  Are you aware that toxic chemicals injected underground as part of fracking process will most likely eventually seep into our groundwater?  According to a recent story on National Public Radio, there are 10,000 fracking sites scheduled for development within the next few years .*

Sandra Steingraber, at the end of her documentary video, Living Downstream, speaks passionately about an emerging environmental human rights movement, which would inspire a groundswell of “carcinogen abolitionists.“  How might you, how might we begin walking upstream together?  Let me know at roseihm@juno.com.

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*Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream: an Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment.  Da Capo Press, 2010.

*For an insightful and balanced article on environmental toxins/carcinogens, go here

*Also check out the NPR story . For more information and action ideas go to http://www.frackaction.com. 

 

An additional resource on the health implications of global climate change: Paul Epstein and Dan Ferber, Changing Planet, Changing Health: How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It:  University of California Press, 2011.

RoseTherese Huelsman, IHM

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Experiencing Climate Change and Responding

Several years ago, a friend and I returned to our beloved Glacier Basin Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park.  It took me a bit to figure out what was wrong:  about half the trees were missing.  And so were the shade and the feeling of being embraced by the forest.  What happened?

I soon learned from a ranger that the major culprit is the pine bark beetle. Normally beetles are killed off by a certain number of winter days below a certain temperature, which usually happens every 2-3 years. At that time these temperatures hadn’t happened for ten years. A nearby camper told me that Timber Creek Campground, another favorite, didn’t even open until July 4 because of dead tree removal. He said. “There’s not a tree left.”  I couldn’t even go there. That was when climate change became real and personal for me.  To this day, I can seldom tell the story without a surge of emotion.

The ranger commented: “The forest will come back, but it won’t be the same forest and it won’t be in our lifetimes.”

All of us have experienced climate change, if we pause to think about it.  The year 2011 included 12 major climate events ranging from killer tornadoes to floods, to drought to catastrophic fires.  In the Midwest, average annual temperatures have risen in recent decades, especially in the winter months. The growing season is starting earlier and lasting longer.  Extreme heat events and heavy downpours are becoming much more common.  Fire ants are headed north.

The vast majority of climate scientists and earth scientists (over 95%) agree that global climate change is real, caused by human activity, and a serious threat to our future.  For a snapshot of what this change might mean for humans, I recommend a study by the Pontifical Academy of Science called “The Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene.”  The article clearly illustrates the fate of glaciers, with before-and-after pictures. It analyzes the inevitable coming crisis of fresh water for both human consumption and agriculture for millions of people, many of whom are already poor. 1

The irony is that those who are contributing the most to this climate change phenomenon are those who are not only the least affected – for now – but who also have the greatest resources to cope.

Really, I’m not trying to make you depressed. I prefer to think of it as reality therapy.  The wonderful part about facing reality is that it has the power to move us to constructive action.

What action?  The choices range from reconstructing our worldview, to changing our daily habits, to speaking out in order to change our institutions and social structures.

Do you remember, during the recovery period from 9/11, when President Bush encouraged us to shop!  Are we a nation of citizens or of consumers?  Are we here on earth to reach out to one another and to build relationships of care, concern and mutual responsibility for the wellbeing of one another and the planet — or to accumulate more “stuff”?  As a culture, we have been seduced into a worldview in which personal worth is measured by money, where “the one with the most toys wins.” This culture is simply not sustainable—environmentally or socially. Not even spiritually.

There’s a new world view coming over the horizon – and odd as it may seem, it’s coming from science. Actually in some ways it’s not new, because it reflects something known by indigenous people in both the past and the present – that we are all one, we are all interconnected, in relationship, accountable for the impact we have on one another.  The difference is that today this worldview is rooted in scientific inquiry – including the realization that everything in the universe comes from the same single origin, and that we all are connected with and influencing each other.  We are all in a very real way kin.

Those of a Judeao-Christian heritage will recognize the resonance with the Wisdom Tradition in the Bible.  God’s wisdom (usually portrayed as feminine), who was with God before anything came to be, was present for the whole work of creation, and delights in being in the world with human children. The same theme is echoed in John’s Gospel:  “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…through [whom] all things came to be, not one thing had its being except through [the Word]. “  I suspect that most religious traditions can find passages which explore humans’ relationship with the universe and each other in similar ways.

Today, literally millions of groups around the world are striving to learn how to live, in a vast diversity of ways, out of that reality that we are all interdependent:  through protecting and renewing creation, living compassionate lives, embracing spirituality, re-inventing small scale economies, restoring collaborative relationships, working to create a socially just society and much more.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has so wisely said, “Each of us can do something. You can, you can, you can– I can!

Each of us can make changes in our priorities and our lifestyles. We can consume less, drive less, make wise consumer choices that support responsible companies, etc., etc.  We can talk with others about our concerns and work to change daily practices where we live, work and worship.  We can build a sustainable, resilient world based on relationships rather than large financial institutions.

We can attend an Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream symposium and follow up with like minded participants.  We can connect with local and national groups and movements, and spend a few minutes or even an hour or so a week doing electronic advocacy, writing letters or making phone calls to help change public policy.  Not infrequently, I get emails from www.earthjustice.org   (“because the earth needs a good lawyer!”) saying “We won!  You submitted 50,000 comments about this regulation and they had to listen to the public voice! We couldn’t have done it without you.”

For a plethora of do-able ideas, ranging from the individual to the institutional, I recommend The Better World Handbook: Small Changes that make a Big Difference. To join up with a faith-based metro organization that supports “greening” faith communities, connect through www.sustainablesanctuary.org.

The human future is in our hands. Let’s not blow it. If we get it right, generations yet to come will bless us and thank us for our wisdom, courage and committed action.

 

1 “Anthropocene” is the term for the new geologic era we have already entered, which is characterized by the impact of human activity on the planet.  Another relatively new term is “climate refugee” which refers to millions of people who are already fleeing their native lands because of extreme drought and unpredictable weather patterns which make it virtually impossible to grow food.

 

Resources:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdscien/2011/PAS_Glacier_110511_final.pdf

www.globalchange.gov/publications/reports/scientific-assessments/us-impacts/full-report/regional-climate-change-impacts/midwest

www.lwv.org/content/global-climate-change-impacts-midwest

www.storyofstuff.com

www.pachamama.org

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Facing the Future: Hunger and Climate Change

Briefing Paper by Maria Riley, OP

As we approach Thanksgiving and World Food Day, let us reflect on pervasive hunger that haunts many in our global community.  The Global Women’s Project at the Center of Concern in Washington, D.C. has just issued a briefing paper for our consideration.  In “Facing the Future: Hunger and Climate Change” by Maria Riley, OP, we learn that the 2011 World Hunger and Poverty Statistics identifies multiple causes of persistence of hunger in the world. Poverty is the principal cause and harmful economic conditions and systems drive poverty and hunger. Conflict compounds hunger and poverty among refugees and internally displaced populations. Climate change is increasingly identified as a current and future cause of hunger and poverty. Add to these immediate causes the fact that governments and international agencies have neglected agriculture relevant to people in poverty for the past 20 to 30 years with the advent of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustment programs in the Global South.

Maria Riley considers hunger and poverty reduction, environmental issues, agroecology and organic food movements, future sustainability, and actions others can undertake.  She provides resources from which she drew her information.  To read her complete briefing paper, go here.  Click on Briefing Paper 8 World Food PDF contained in the attachment box on this page.

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Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai — “The best tribute we can pay to this great woman of Africa is to continue to organize so that we can gain higher levels of spiritual awareness and build the shared values for peace and social justice across the planet.”  Horace Campbell.

Wangari Maathai:  “In the process of helping the earth to heal, we help ourselves.”

By Jone Johnson Lewis, in www.About.com

Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt movement in Kenya in 1977, which has planted more than 10 million trees to prevent soil erosion and provide firewood for cooking fires. A 1989 United Nations report noted that only 9 trees were being replanted in Africa for every 100 that were cut down, causing serious problems with deforestation: soil runoff, water pollution, difficulty finding firewood, lack of animal nutrition, etc.

The program has been carried out primarily by women in the villages of Kenya, who through protecting their environment and through the paid employment for planting the trees are able to better care for their children and their children’s future.

Born in 1940 in Nyeri, Wangari Maathai was able to pursue higher education, a rarity for girls in rural areas of Kenya. She earned her biology degree from Mount St. Scholastica College in Kansas and a master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh.

When she returned to Kenya, Wangari Maathai worked in veterinary medicine research at the University of Nairobi, and eventually, despite the skepticism and even opposition of the male students and faculty, was able to earn a Ph.D. there. She worked her way up through the academic ranks, becoming head of the veterinary medicine faculty, a first for a woman at any department at that university.

Wangari Maathai’s husband ran for Parliament in the 1970s, and Wangari Maathai became involved in organizing work for poor people and eventually this became a national grass-roots organization, providing work and improving the environment at the same time. The project has made significant headway against Kenya’s deforestation.

Wangari Maathai continued her work with the Green Belt Movement, and working for environmental and women’s causes. She also served as national chairperson for the National Council of Women of Kenya.

In 1997 Wangari Maathai ran for the presidency of Kenya, though the party withdrew her candidacy a few days before the election without letting her know; she was defeated for a seat in Parliament in the same election.

In 1998, Wangari Maathai gained worldwide attention when the Kenyan President backed development of a luxury housing project and building began by clearing hundreds of acres of Kenya forest.

In 1991, Wangari Maathai was arrested and imprisoned; an Amnesty International letter-writing campaign helped free her. In 1999 she suffered head injuries when attacked while planting trees in the Karura Public Forest in Nairobi, part of a protest against continuing deforestation. She was arrested numerous times by the government of Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi.

In January, 2002, Wangari Maathai accepted a position as Visiting Fellow at Yale University’s Global Institute for Sustainable Forestry.

And in December, 2002, Wangari Maathai was elected to Parliament, as Mwai Kibabi defeated Maathai’s long-time political nemesis, Daniel arap Moi, for 24 years the President of Kenya. Kibabi named Maathai as Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife in January, 2003.

Wangari Maathai died in Nairobi in 2011 of cancer.

More About Wangari Maathai

  • ·Wangari Maathai and Jason Bock. The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience. 2003.
  • ·Wallace, Aubrey. Eco-Heroes: Twelve Tales of Environmental Victory. Mercury House. 1993.
  • ·Dianne Rocheleau, Barbara Thomas-Slayter and Esther Wangari, editors. Feminist Political Ecology: Global Issues and Local Experiences.

Editor’s note:  In 1977, Wangari Maathai started a movement — called the Green Belt Movement — to plant trees to solve societal woes. Known in her native Kenya as “The Tree Lady,” she was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She is also first woman in central or eastern Africa to hold a Ph.D., and the first woman head of a university department in Kenya. She died after a long battle with cancer.  The article notes that she received her biology degree from Mt. St. Scholastica in Atchison, KS.  We share our Benedictine Sisters sorrow and loss.

 

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The Profound Impact of a Penny

By Barry Estabrook, published Monday, June 06, 2011 in Zester Daily

Raising the price of tomatoes by 1 cent a pound would change farmworkers’ lives. Trader Joe’s said no.  Would you pay one penny more per pound to buy a tomato if you knew it would go a long way toward alleviating labor abuse in the fields?  When asked that question, not a single supermarket chain in the country, with the notable exception of Whole Foods Market, said yes. No grocery giant has a legitimate excuse to pinch that extra penny, but of all the holdouts, the most perplexing is Trader Joe’s, which promotes itself as a cheerful bastion of all things ethical.

A penny-a-pound wage increase might seem insignificant, but if you harvest Florida tomatoes, it’s the difference between making $50 a day and $80 a day — the difference between a wage that doesn’t allow you to properly feed and shelter your family and a livable, albeit paltry, income. “It’s the difference between a 19th-century workhouse and a modern factory,” said one member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a human rights group based in southwestern Florida that has long struggled on behalf of farmworkers.

Even with the wage increase, the job still falls well below what most Americans would accept — no overtime, no benefits, no sick leave. But the added penny-a-pound, along with some basic improvements in working conditions, would amount to nothing short of a revolution for the 30,000 workers in Florida who pick nearly one-third of the tomatoes Americans eat.

Last fall, it looked as if that revolution was going to sweep the Florida tomato industry. After nearly two decades of demonstrations, petitions and hunger strikes, the CIW convinced the dozen or so huge companies that grow virtually all Florida tomatoes to sign its Fair Food agreement. The growers agreed to the penny-a-pound increase on one condition: that their customers — supermarkets, fast-food chains, and food-service corporations — absorb the difference.

By signing the Fair Food agreement, the participating growers also agreed to abide by a Fair Food Code of Conduct that included the following:

  • A job-training program outlining workers’ basic rights
  • A mechanism to ensure harvesters actually get credited for every tomato they pick
  • A grievance system for uncovering and eliminating workplace abuses
  • Health and safety committees to address such common job-site occurrences as pesticide poisoning and sexual harassment

All the large fast-food chains, including McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway, have agreed to pay the penny and deal only with growers in compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct. The major food service companies that supply colleges, museums and national parks also came aboard.

But the “old” system still applies to about half the Florida tomatoes sold. It is a national disgrace. In 2000, the U.S. Department of Labor described farmworkers as “a labor force in significant economic distress.” With annual incomes of between $10,000 and $12,500, their poverty rate is twice as high as other working people in this country.

On trips to Immokalee to research my book, “Tomatoland: How Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit,” I toured a decrepit trailer with neither heat nor air-conditioning. It had one miserable shower stall and toilet to serve the 10 men who called the place home and paid a rural slumlord $2,000 a month for the privilege. I spoke with a “crew boss” who quit her job after seeing her workers sprayed on an almost daily basis with some of the most toxic pesticides in factory farming’s chemical arsenal.

And I did something I never imagined doing in the 21st century: I interviewed a man who had toiled as a slave. He received no pay, was locked in the back of a produce truck at night and was beaten if he refused to work or tried to escape. He was one of more than 1,000 people freed in seven Florida slavery cases successfully prosecuted since 1997. A U.S. deputy attorney told me that southwest Florida was “ground zero for modern day slavery.”

As part of the CIW’s campaign for Fair Food, a contingent of workers approached a Trader Joe’s store in Manhattan this spring to deliver a letter to its manager. They were not met by the usual chipper Hawaiian-shirted greeters but by security guards who turned them away. Following protests at 23 Trader Joe’s stores across the country in April, the company, which is owned by the trust of the founder of Aldi, a discount chain based in Germany, posted a headline on its website.  “A Note to Our Customers About Florida Tomatoes and the CIW” claimed that the agreement for Fair Food was “overreaching, ambiguous, and improper.”  It accused the CIW of “spreading misleading and not factual information.”  Their charge rings hollow.

The CIW has received awards from Anti-Slavery International of London, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, and the U.S. Department of State, to name a few. FBI Director Robert Mueller sent a letter of commendation to the CIW. The lawyers of such behemoths as McDonald’s would never have allowed their executives to sign the Fair Food agreement if it was “improper.”

At the very least, Trader Joe’s management should follow the lead of a past adversary of the CIW and issue a statement like theirs: “The CIW has been at the forefront of efforts to improve farm labor conditions, exposing abuses and driving socially responsible purchasing and work practices in the Florida tomato fields. We apologize for any negative statements about the CIW … and now realize that those statements were wrong.”  The speaker was Burger King CEO John Chidsey during the 2008 ceremony in which he signed the Fair Food agreement.

A two-time James Beard Award winner, Barry Estabrook was a contributing editor at Gourmet. His work has also appeared in The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, Men’s Health, Saveur, Gastronomica, TheAtlantic.com and many other national magazines. He has been anthologized in “The Best American Food Writing” 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010. His award-winning website is politicsoftheplate.com, and his book “Tomatoland,” is an investigative look into industrial-scale tomato agriculture, will be published by Andrews McMeel this month.

 

Summertime is clearly time for action in North Carolina.

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The Reality of the Unimaginable…We Will Rebuild

Note: Information taken from a media report given by St. John’s Regional Medical Center administrative personnel, emails sent to this editor, letters sent to Sisters of Mercy communities, and Mercy websites, including Mercy Health System.

It has been a time of unimaginable suffering, death and devastation in the wake of a series of tornados that have swept through the Midwest and the Plains. But in the aftermath, plans for the future already are emerging.  For St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin the Sisters of Mercy Health System, which holds responsibility for the medical center, has already announced it will rebuild.   St. John’s was evacuated after it took a direct, devastating hit from the tornado that tore through Joplin on Sunday, May 22, 2011. Despite the heroic efforts of St. John employees, five patients and one unidentified visitor lost their lives.

The President and CEO of St. John’s shared plans for a 60-bed mobile hospital that he said would be in place within the week in Joplin.  It will offer a full array of services including emergency, surgery, imaging, lab and inpatient care. It will be able to withstand 100 mile-per-hour winds.  The mobile hospital opened on May 29, one week after the disastrous tornado ripped through Joplin and directly hit the medical center.  Longer-term plans for the hospital are being discussed, and a board meeting was held during the week after the tornado to continue the planning effort.  One board member’s reflection is at the end of this article.

The Sisters of Mercy came to this community in 1885 and opened the hospital in 1896. They’ve been through hard times before – perhaps nothing quite on the magnitude of this – but their commitment and that of their co-workers at St. John’s remains strong.

St. John’s is also committed to its 2,800 employees. A command center has been established to provide information and assistance these workers. Many will be needed to carry on the work of St. John’s in the community, and positions, in the meantime, will be available to some employees at other hospitals and clinics in the Mercy health system in the surrounding area.  “We are committed to helping as many employees as possible continue with St. John’s or the larger Mercy health system,” Britton added.

Other sites of service that are open and operating include Mercy Express Care and Mercy Clinic locations in Webb City, Carthage and Neosho. Physicians and other caregivers whose offices were damaged or destroyed are rotating through these locations, and plans are underway to find additional sites of service.  The medical center’s electronic health record system, which was implemented in Joplin less than a month ago, will go back online, connecting the mobile hospital and all Mercy health system sites of service.

St. John’s is a 370-bed hospital, which sustained significant damage, and may not be salvageable.  Structural engineers have been examining the building will provide a report within a week. Mercy Village, a 60-unit senior housing development, also sustained substantial damage and was evacuated.  No residents were harmed.  Renovations to the building have been estimated to take eight months.  Residents will not be able to return until this time.  McAuley High, another, long-time Sisters of Mercy ministry, was not damaged and is being used as a triage center.

Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Associates residing in Joplin, MO, were not injured, though like many others, their homes were damaged and they are living with friends, family, or in Mercy community houses.

This photo  shows the only thing on the Joplin hospital campus that was untouched by the tornado.  Additional images of the destruction can be viewed at the health system’s album at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mercyhealth.  

 

 

One Board Member’s Reflection: 

On June 26, 2011 a special board meeting was held in Joplin to update all members of the board on the status and activities related to St. John’s Regional Medical Center. The meeting was very informative and very emotional for those who were telling the story. The stories are a source of pride for me — the stories of the heroes and heroines…Stories abound on the way they were able to focus on the patients in the face of these great odds, and in the face of uncertainty of the condition of their own families and homes…

Following the board meeting we went to the site to meet with local, State and Federal visitor’s deputy directors of HUD and Home land Security, Senators of Missouri and other state officials. This was their first stop in the several hours that they spent in Joplin.  I understand this is the group that precedes the Presidential visit and determines where and what the President will see.  [President Obama visited Joplin on Sunday, May 29].

Following this we continued our tour of the St. John’s campus. Even after having seen the pictures and listening to the news, reality is much more shocking. It was only by miracles that anyone came out of that building alive. The staff evacuated the building in the pitch dark with use of flash lights and cell phones to light their way and within 90 minutes they had evacuated 183 patients.  One of the engineers told us that after seeing the ruble and debris in the hallways, “I don’t know how they got through them to get patients out.” He described conditions in the stairwells as being full of sheet rock from the walls and every other thing imaginable.  He said even interior walls are moved and it is difficult to determine what was in that space previously.

The most remarkable story that I heard was immediately following the evacuation they had a strong smell of gas and were telling people to get as far away from the building as possible for fear of explosion.  People were running away, but some of the employees were running toward the building to see if there was anyone else who needed rescue.

We then went to Memorial Hall where health care is being provided.  They are seeing over 200 patients a day.  The spirit and organization of this make shift ministry site is most remarkable.  I spoke with people waiting to be seen and they expressed gratitude for being able to receive care, very humbling.  We continued our tour by car of the devastation.  On Range Line Road the businesses are flattened for about a mile there are not many walls standing. One cannot even determine what business was there.

We made our way to St. John’s command center which is set up at the John Q Hammons Conference Center.  Absolutely amazing work is going on here.  Every kind of assistance that St. John’s employees need is being provided, enough to keep body and spirit together and to provide a glimmer of hope.  It also serves as a gathering place where they can meet and be with others from their department or from the hospital.  These reunions are absolutely awesome.  Those who are working, providing service at the Center are so wonderful, they listen to heartbreaking story after heart breaking story, and they pray, they weep, they laugh, they offer assistance and they keep going. Co workers from across the ministry are there offering their compassionate love and support.  Mercy in action brings tears to my eyes hour after hour.

Plans are underway for a Celebration of Hope at the Missouri Southern University on June 12th at 3:00 p.m. The intention is to get together with co-workers, civic partners and first responders to mourn losses, to turn to the future and plans for where we are going.

Please accept my poor efforts at sharing some of this experience with you.  Really it is beyond words and the reality is so much worse than the pictures, this is merely a brush at my effort to share yesterday’s experience with you.

Please continue to hold this community in prayer, the suffering is immense, the spirit is bold and there is hope in the air.  The preliminary steps to rebuilding are underway.

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Nuclear Bomb Parts Plant Protest Monday, Kansas City, Missouri

Source:  Eric Bowers’s Photoblog, posted May 2, 2011

On Monday morning, May 2, a protest and willful arrest took place at the construction zone of the new National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) campus and nuclear weapons parts plant out at Missouri Highway 150 and Botts Road – the replacement site for the old, toxically contaminated Bannister Federal Complex that has been under investigation for causing chronic illness and death to workers exposed to hazardous materials in the manufacture of nuclear weapons parts. Peaceworks KC, a Catholic group, organized the protest with several dozen members willfully arrested at the site today for blocking one of the gates.

Additional controversy comes from the financing of the plant. According to the petition Peaceworks KC is circulating, the city of KCMO sold $815 million in municipal bonds which went toward financing the plant as part of a mandate to generate 2,000 jobs at the new plant that the city itself holds legal title to – a tad ironic given the former weapons parts plant at Bannister has been proven toxically contaminated and has caused many ill former workers to complain of illness or even die.

When I covered a similar protest back in August of 2010, protestors made it all the way through the grounds of the construction area, however with a quick closure of a chain link fence gate by watchful construction personnel, the willful arrests took place this time near the front of the construction area.

Note:  for additional information and photos, visit here.  Article and photos are by Joshua McElwee, joshua.mac@gmail.com, National Catholic Reporter. Office: 816.968.2261

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