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To m Ba l le ng e r Fort Worth THE NUCLEAR AND military industry in Texas is alive and well. Of 254 counties, 121 of them have companies that have been awarded prime Pentagon contracts amounting to $6.57 -billion. The state’s first nuclear power plant is close to completion with a Texas-sized’ price of $4.5 billion. Every day five to eight new nuclear warheads roll off the assembly line at Pantex. Combine this with the 630 warheads deployed at various military installations around the state, and Texas has enough nuclear weapons to declare itself a superpower in its own right. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the only direct use, thus far, of an atomic bomb against a civilian population. In early August, people all over the world will be gathering to remember the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the Southwest, the Red River Peace Network a coalition of organizations from Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas has organized a nuclear connections pilgrimage. While the primary focus of the pilgrimage is the Pantex nuclear weapons plant near Amarillo, the pilgrimage will also stop at major nuclear and military installations in the state in order to bring attention to this growing network. On Friday, July 26, the pilgrimage will begin with a peace vigil and an allnight camp at the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant at Glenrose \(35 che peak has long been a concern of environmentalists and consumers alike. Originally scheduled to be finished in 1980, it has been plagued with construction delays, cost overruns, and claims of faulty construction and inspector harassment. The Nuclear Regulatory ing until faults with welds and other problems can be cleared up. From there, activists will journey to Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth. Carswell is the home of the Strategic Les Breeding directs the Fort Worth office of the Nuclear Freeze campaign. Air Command’s 9th Bomb Wing. Here a vigil will be held to pray for peace under the shadow of B-52’s carrying nuclear bombs, intended for cities in the Soviet Union. The next day’s trek will begin at Bell Helicopter, a supplier of military helicopters to various governments known for their extreme disregard for human rights. In 1983, the Reagan administration decided to resume arm sales to Guatemala after they had been stopped by Jimmy Carter due to the Guatemalan extermination of the Mayan population. Even while this ban was in effect, Bell sold 23 civilian helicopters to Guatemala, which ‘were fitted with machine guns by their armed forces. Now Reagan has opened the door for sales of more “Hueys.” After leaving Fort Worth, the pilgrimage will journey to Abilene, holding town meetings and giving educational presentations on the way. On Tuesday, July 31, a peace witness will be held at Dyess Air Force Base, where the nation’s first B-1 bomber is scheduled to arrive. Dyess will be the home of the Air Force’s B-1 pilot training school. The B-1 is the Defense Department’s largest single program with over 5,000 subcontractors and suppliers. The projected cost in 1977 was $45 million each. The cost now, however, is pegged at over $200 million for each of the 100 bombers ordered. The B-1 is meant to replace the B-52 for bombing missions and as a carrier of strategic nuclear bombs and cruise missiles. On Thursday , August 1, the Nuclear Connections pilgrimage will be in Lubbock, the home of Reese Air Force Base. Reese was recently selected as one of 46 possible sites for the new Midgetman missile. These small, mobile missiles are carried around by armored launchers called “Armadillos.” The Midgetman program calls for at least 500 of these missiles to be built with a current price estimate of $65 billion. The next day the group goes to Plainview and then to Hereford on Saturday, August 3. Hereford had been selected as one of three finalists for the nation’s High Level Nuclear Waste Repository. This repository will be used to store the more than 8,000 tons of radioactive waste temporarily stored at the nation’s 90 nuclear power plants. This waste is expected to total nearly 50,000 tons by the turn of the century. This repository would be open for 75 years with plans to seal it thereafter for 10,000 years. The shafts for the repository will have to be sunk through the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest water storing formation in the country, serving the 930,000 acres in active production and 6,000 irrigation wells in the area and farming activities stretching to Nebraska. Once the repository was operating, trucks and railroad cars carrying nuclear waste will arrive and depart every 51 minutes. On August 4, the pilgrimage will arrive at the Pantex plant. The Pantex plant is now the final assembly point for all of the nuclear weapons produced in the United States. During the 1960s and 1970s, the other final assembly plants at Clarksville, Tennessee, Medina Air Force Base in San Antonio, and the Iowa Army Munitions Plant in Burlington were consolidated at Pantex. Between five and eight nuclear warheads are assembled daily, adding to the national stockpile of about 30,000. Pantex, due to its importance in the U.S. nuclear weapon production complex, is a focus of disarmament groups worldwide. Pantex is located 17 miles northeast of Amarillo in the center of the Texas Panhandle. The plant is owned by the THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11 Nuclear Connections Pilgrimage The Road to Pantex By Les Breeding