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Lies Below the Surface? Two recent reports indicate the Pantex Plant might be facing problems with the by-products of nuclear weapons production. Department of Energy research teams found 45 sites at the 21-squaremile facility that “could potentially have adverse impacts on the environment.” Their findings indicate: Surface water and lake bed sediment may be contaminated by heavy metals and solvents; Emissions from burning operations may be harmful to cattle grazing near the plant; Toxic solvents might taint nearby domestic water wells; Low-level radioactive waste has been mixed with other wastes and might be improperly landfilled; Environmental monitoring at Pantex is inadequate. The draft reports were prepared late last year as part of an assessment of environmental problems at Department of Energy facilities nationwide. Scientists are now examining soil and water samples to learn how serious the pollution problem is at Pantex. “Many of these sites date back to World War II when it was an army plant,” explained Pantex DOE spokesman Tom Walton. “The [environmental] rules that apply today did not necessarily apply back in the ’40s, ’50s, and the ’60s. A lot of changes have been made in the rules over the past 20 years.” But the reports indicate Pantex has violated its own rules at times, leading to toxic emissions. A 2,000gallon spill of gasoline in 1985 was never cleaned up or reported to monitoring agencies. Interviews with plant employees revealed fluoride emission levels were too high. The reports also say the practice of burying waste that might contain “minute amounts” of depleted uranium should be “reevaluated.” “There’s not nearly enough information for us to know if it’s safe or not safe,” contends Les Breeding, who lives at the Peace Farm beside the Pantex Plant. “The Department of Energy is still monitoring themselves and it’s hard to say whether we should believe them. They went for years at other plants producing false documents, false reports.” According to the environmental reports none of the waste sites at Pantex poses immediate or serious harm to plant workers or those who live nearby. Using the Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria for toxic waste, researchers found Pantex scores just below the threshold for placement on the National Priority List for Superfund cleanup. “There’s no big impetus to run out and clean “it up right now,” Walton said. “Nothing is flowing away from these areas. It would not be costefficient or prove anything to clean it up now if we’re going to go out and test another piece of high explosive tomorrow.” T.F. Our outstanding lunches have been an Austin must for eleven years. Our international grocery features food and wine from around the world. Come see us at our new home. Oommon liliET 1610 San Antonio Austin, Tex. 78701 472-1900 Hours: 7am 7pm Mon. to Fri. and 8am 6pm on Sat A Walk on the Beach, A Breath of Fresh Air, A Discovery of A Shell, And Yourself . . . P.O. Box 8 Port Aransas, TX 78373 Life Insurance and Annuities Martin Elfant, CLU 4223 Richmond, Suite 213, Houston, TX 77027 OF Bishop Matthiesen release. “Rather than getting arrested to get attention, we’re going to be positive about it,” Corry said. “That way we get much broader participation. The mood in the camp used to be them and us and that’s so passe.” Balloons drifted high over the bunkers where nuclear warheads are stored at Pantex, while Roman Catholic Bishop L. T. Matthiesen prayed for peace. “The garden of paradise is now a place of fear,” he said, discussing a world that lives with the superpower threat of mutually assured destruction. “We are here not so much to pray for the Japanese who died in Nagasaki, we are here to pray for a people living in fear.” East Dallas Printing Company Full Service Union Printing 211 S. Peak Dallas, Tx 75226 18 AUGUST 28, 1987