53,1W4265,3o.:-.:\(4:462-1-:imeeK ,Witcs4;53 ._ UCLEAR NEW organize the truck transport of some 18 million pounds of radioactive detritus collected in Fort Worth to the South Carolina dump. For his efforts, he says, Gov. Preston Smith sent him a letter of commendation. Beierle stayed on in the state after the Fort Worth job. It is not clear how he occupied himself in 1974, but in the fall of 1975, he showed up in Delta County with an option to buy about 280 acres of prime grazing land near the community of Charleston, and the incorporating papers of an exciting new enterprise that he said would enrich the lives of many a Delta Countian. The SouthWest Nuclear Company, with Beierle as its president, had arrived. Beierle opened an office in Cooper \(the family meant to settle thereabouts. He announced in the pages of The Cooper Review that he would soon begin construction of a $1 to $3 million chemical waste reclamation plant and dump. The plant, he said, could be expected to employ a work force of 50 or 55. An annual payroll of $500,000 was assured. Kentucky leaks He was not exactly forthcoming on details of his capitalization plans, nor on his strategy for surviving the five-stage state and federal licensing process that stood between him and his ambition to build the nation’s seventh nuclear waste dump in Delta County. But no matter. Fred Beierle is nothing if not a personable man, and people say he did a damned good job of promoting himself and his venture. He attended local churches, joined service clubs, bought himself a pickup, and nicely insinuated himself into the life of Delta County. For a while, everything was jake. Then a .few worrywarts started asking questions. Chemical waste burial was one thing, but didn’t SouthWest’s charter declare that the company would undertake the disposal of nuclear wastes as well? And wasn’t that line of work a little on the dangerous side? Paul and Grace Swenson of the Delta County community of Charleston did not find Beierle’s evasions reassuring, and decided they wanted no part of a radioactive waste dump. Further inquiries led them to the predicament of the farmers and hollow dwellers of the eastern Kentucky hamlet of Maxey Flats, where a dump similar to that proposed by Beierle for Delta County had sprung serious leaks. Heavy seasonal rains had leached the storage trenches, and it was found that deadly plutonium-239 had migrated hundreds of meters beyond the confines of the dump and into groundwater channels. Dairy farmers panicked over the health of their herds grazing nearby, and the people of Maxey Flats say now you can’t give away bottomland downstream from the dump site. They bombarded the Swensons with Mailgrams 4 The Texas Observer exhorting them to oppose Beierle and his dump in any way possible. A petition drive was launched by the Swensons, and Fred Beierle presently found himself up against the well-organized Concerned Citizens of Delta County. The Concerned Citizens were not just mucking aboutthey hired a lawyer and a geophysicist to counsel them. In time, 60 percent of the county’s 5,000 registered voters signed anti-dump petitions. The drift of public sen esoperalfituiro According to the U.S.A.E.C. and the Agreement States Publication on Licensing Statics and other data, as of Dec. 31, 1973, the State of Texas had 1,247 firms, institutions, agencies and individuals that possessed radioactive material licenses. Texas ranks third behind New York with 2,082 radioactive material licenses and California with 1,324 radioactive material licenses. In addition of SouthWest Nuclear Co., there are eight other Radioactive Waste Disposal licenses in existence in Texas. There are however no commercial licensed burial sites in Texas so it is therefore necessary for all licensed operators to ship their radioactive material that is picked’up in Texas out of state to one of the existing burial sites. There is also a trend in industry as well as some of the labor unions to promote the orderly development of the Nuclear Industry especially the Nuclear Power industry which is in the national interest, as quoted from the Atomic Industrial Foram INFO newsletter: “In New York State, organized labor has been taking a look at the effects of nuclear opposition by environmental and legislative groups. Two such groups are Local 25 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Long Island and the Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO in Schenectady. “Everett W. Lehmann, president of the 5,000 member IBEW local, expressed concern last October. The local’s Environmental Protection and Progress Committee was formed early in 1974, with electrician Anthony J. Montinegro as chairman, in order to protect the environmental health and welfare of our Long Island community, while insuring that all areas of growth vital to a healthy economy are not overlooked. The group was formed when the ‘lesson struck home-hard’ that construction cancellations and delays caused by environmentalist pressures had resulted in lost jobs. “The Committee is intervening in the licensing hearings being conducted on the Jamesport Nuclear Units 1 and 2 of the Long Island Lighting Company. In a petition made in connection with these hearings, the union committee says: “The petitioner, as the representative of its union members who live and work on Long Island, believes that an adequate and reliable supply of electricity is essential to the continued well-being of Long Island’s residential, business, and industrial communities. It believes that the construction of the proposed Jamesport nuclear units will help to achieve that result…that the…units will be more reliable than oilor coal-fired generating units…that…nuclear units have less of an environmental impact than either coalor oil-fired units…that failure to have…adequate…electric power will curtail the economic growth of Long Island, causing a reduction in employment and jeopardizing the livelihood of One of Beierle’s “educational” ads promoting nuclear power. timent did not escape the county commissioners, who last winter adopted a resolution opposing Beierle and all his works by a 5-0 vote. Technical experts testified at public hearings in Cooper that Beierle had, in a number of respects, chosen the worst possible location for his dump. For one thing, as East Texas State University geophysicist A. W. Ibrahim pointed out, the land was bounded on two sides by appreciable faults in the substrata. “Beierle’s inviting trouble,” Dr. Ibrahim warned. Then there was the obvious consideration of climate. Eastern Delta County suffers from extremes of humidity and dryness, factors militating against burial integrity for toxic substances. “You can stick your whole arm down cracks in that soil in dry season,” observed Coy Johnson, the Sulphur Springs attorney who represented the Concerned Citizens. Geology and simple climatic constraints made a shambles of Beierle’s project in Delta County, but still he cajoled, argued, reasoned, and advertised the benefits that would fall to the county if he were given a green light. \(At no point, however, did he A final piece of hard luck finished him off and made opposition to SouthWest Nuclear all but universal. A Schedule-D oil and gas scandal unfolded last December and January \(Obs., that three officers of Enntex Oil and Gas, SouthWest’s parent firm, had been charged by Texas Atty. Gen. John Hill with the sale of unregistered and fraudulent securities here and in Florida. Beierle’s business pedigree was permanently sullied in Cooper, and in March of this year, after six months of salesmanship, he gave up on Delta County. In April, he and his wife opened a bible shop in Commerce, down in Hunt County. End of story? Not at all. The religious book trade could not contain Fred Beierle’s talents and energies. How he longed to become the fission waste king of Texas! In quiet and low-profile pursuit of his ambitionsit was time for new tacticshe gazed across the North Sulphur River to the small Lamar County town of Roxton. Here, as he would find out this fall, the chance of sudden and substantial economic gain his venture seemed to guarantee could be counted on to cloud the better judgment of the city fathers. Secret junket Beierle’s parfait of jobs and a huge new monthly payroll for the town suited Roxton’s bankers and businessmen fine. Beierle has a good eye for the powerful, and in October he secretly lined up nine of Roxton’s finest for a junket to Barnwell, S.C., where he conducted a guided tour of the waste dump there. The visitor party was “100 percent impressed,” one of their number told the Observer, but back in Roxton, no one knew of the inspection trip. Indeed, until late October, few people outside of the Roxton Industrial Relations Board \(a dozen or so movers and shakers carefully and quietly organized, apparently for the express purpose of promoting Beierle’s Montanan and what he proposed to do for the town and its 917 inhabitants. Beierle’s career in Roxton has, so far, been an unseemly patchwork of secret meetings in the town’s bank, unanswered questions, extravagant cash promises, Thursday. October 23, 1975 PAGE 3
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