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Live music Friday and Saturday 1001 S. Alamo, San Antonio Parisian Charm. Omelette & Champagne Breakfast. Beautiful Crepes. Afternoon Cocktails. Gallant Waiters. Delicious Quiche. Evening Romance. Continental Steaks. Mysterious Women. Famous Pastries. Cognac & Midnight Rendezvous. In short, it’s about everything a great European style restaurant is all about. The_ _Old recan St 310 East 6th St. Austin, Texas Texas Ecologists’ parent company Web of Nuclear Waste THE BRAZOS BOOK SHOP 803 Red River Austin, Texas Literature and the Fine Arts new and used books Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Featuring Local Presses and Authors: Including Thorp Springs Press, Prickly Pear Press, Texas Circuit, Encino Press, Shoal Creek Publishers, Jenkins Publishing, Place of Herons Press, and many others By Paul Sweeney Austin Texas Ecologists, Inc., the chemical waste disposal firm whose Coastal Bend dump site at Robstown has stirred farmers and residents to fight for its closing [Obs., Apr. 11] is but one operation of its equally trouble-plagued parent comof Lousiville, Ky. In almost two decades of business, NECO, itself a subsidiary of the Los Angeles conglomerate Teledyne, Inc., has run afoul of state, federal and community authorities for environmental pollution in Kentucky, Illinois, Nevada and Washington. Charges have included improper management and negligence in handling nuclear waste and hazardous substances. Sites owned by the firm have been shut down; in other cases the firm has abandoned its own operations, leaving a heavy financial clean-up burden on taxpayers. If Texas Ecologists isn’t, as the name implies, an environmental group, neither is Nuclear Engineering a group of engineers. “We’re not an engineering firm, we’re a waste management firm,” says George Kolbenschlag, a NECO spokesman. Kentucky has probably borne the brunt of NECO’s environmental burden through the operation of a nuclear dump site at Maxey Flats in Fleming County. Opened in 1963, the Maxey Flats operation began at a time when nuclear energy was being touted as a source of electricity “too cheap to meter.” Today, some $3 million in state-financed cleanup costs later, Kentucky taxpayers may have reason to reassess their energy bargain. “One thing that happened,” explains David Clark, a supervisor in Kentucky’s radiation control agency, “was that material wood, cardboard and various other things was decomposing in the trenches. The clay caps would subside and collapse. Clark blamed the burial ground’s prob Paul Sweeney is an Observer contributing editor. lems on years of negligence. “From the beginning, NECO was not capping trenches properly,” Clark says. “It didn’t pay attention and the problem slid until the regulators finally jumped on them. “Before 1973, from a regulatory point of view, they weren’t properly regulated. We didn’t keep a tight enough hand. Then they were reluctant to spend the money to get the job done. It took quite a bit of effort,” Clark adds. And money. The state of Kentucky spent $1.7 million to buy out NECO’s 25-year lease after the site was shut down. Another $700,000 went to NECO a year later to continue to manage the waste that had already been accumulated at the site. An additional $380,000 in annual fees were paid to another firm which has since been given caretaker responsibilities. Nor is that the end. “The way to correct the problem may be to spend $2 million to $4 million for a clay cap,” said Hugh Archer, formerly a lawyer in Kentucky’s environmental protection agency. “But now the legislature has to bite its tongue before it can appropriate money.” Moreover, Maxey Flats was supposed to handle only low-level radioactive waste such as hospital and laboratory material, mildly contaminated clothing and X-ray refuse. But in 1976 the federal Environmental Protection Agency found that plutonium was escaping and spreading at Maxey Flats from materials buried there by NECO. Over the years, NECO had been paying into a state fund for eventual decommissioning of the site, money that was to pay for perpetual maintenance costs. In fact, the money lasted about three months. * * * In Sheffield, Ill., nearly the same story has been repeated, with the exception that the state has been unwilling to take NECO’s nuclear burial site off the company’s hands. In 1978 NECO tried to leave Sheffield when it was denied a request to expand 22 MAY 23, 1980