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AFTERWORD Dumping on Kinney County BY DON PARKS Brackettville Apect to go to war again, and certainly not against a government charged with protecting the people against assaults on the common welfare. There are, however, limits on the kinds of injustice and abuse one can tolerate, and those limits were exceeded in the summer of 1988. Soon after arriving home from a year of study at Sul Ross University, I became aware of a ridiculous plan to transplant radioactive industrial filth from existing locations all over the state and nation into a dump located within a halfmile of Spofford, 10 miles south of my home in Kinney County. To find Kinney County one travels west from. San Antonio on Highway 90, through the Uvalde winter garden area and into brush country. Ranching is the basic economic endeavor, supplemented by lease hunting and a growing tourist and retirement industry. Absence of any smokestack factories and a sparse population have preserved two assets which daily become more rare in this world: unpolluted air to breath and pure water to drink. Equally precious, perhaps, is a manner of living at a pace and on a scale once quite ordinary but now rapidly disappearing. While jobs are not plentiful and incomes are comparatively low, a surprising number of people live here because they really prefer to do so. They are aware of higher pay and more options elsewhere, but also know about urban crime rates, and isolation, and indifference, and more rigorous climates and many other negatives. This, then, is the area into which I chose to move 10 years ago and where I hope to live out my remaining years. Sadly, it is also part of a region targeted by giant waste-management companies as a national dumping ground for toxic hazardous and radioactive industrial and mining trash. Decades of government and corporate environmental abuse have produced a worldwide crisis in waste mismanagement. Clean-up activities will generate enormous profits. All that is required is a license and an undefended area in which to locate dumps. History shows that these dumps proliferate once one opens. Whole regions are rapidly degraded. “State of the art” technology fails. Leaks occur. Air, water, and soil are polluted. Local economies are destroyed. Don Parks is a 10-year resident of Kinney County. Highway 90 serves as a convenient northern boundary for this target region, which generally meets criteria for areas to be thus victimized. Although the waste industry denies it, common factors exist at most dump sites: rural and remote, low population density, poor economy and widespread poverty, politically conservative and COURTESY KINNEY COUNYT CAVALRYMAN Demonstration at Department of Health hearing on Texcor, June 11 market-oriented, low education level, and a high percentage of minorities. The region of Texas south of Highway 90 meets these measures of human vulnerability. Kinney County certainly does. Texcor came to the county in the person of Charles Salsman, the company’s president, accompanied by a publicity professional named George Bokorney. They came from New Braunfels, north of San Antonio. Initially they proposed something vaguely to do with oil-field pipe, which evolved into a new “facility” for “NORM” \(Naturally Occurring Radioactive hole in the ground less than a half-mile from Hispanic family homes in the village of Spofford. They began holding meetings complete with a slide show and samples of “impermeable” dump lining material. They spoke in glowing terms of victims against fraud use the cliche, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” As the propaganda campaign continued, a great number of local residents began to examine the Texcor scheme and its potential effect on their lives. An overwhelming majority did not like what they found. It was indeed too good to be true. Soon a grass-roots movement coalesced as CARE Community Against Radioactive Environment of Kinney County. A petition drive opposing the dump produced signatures of a majority of voters and residents. Anti-dump resolutions were adopted by every city and county government in Val Verde, Maverick, Uvalde and Kinney Counties, by the Fort Clark Springs board of directors and by the Middle Rio Grande Development Council, a nine-county agency. On September 28, 1988, the city of Brackettville hosted an area-wide meeting to discuss the Texcor dump. At the meeting it was apparent that Texcor had gained only token local backing. However, the company has, from the beginning, enjoyed strong and powerful support from the Texas Department of Health TDH. The BRC displayed its overt sponsorship when Mr. Ed Bailey, Director of Licensing, Registration, and Standards for BRC, appeared as a Texcor advocate and supporter at a private meeting at Fort Clark on September 1, 1988. BRC involvement was further emphasized when Mr. Bailey again traveled from Austin to publicly support Texcor at the Sept. 28 meeting. That evening, a majority of the more than 500 residents in attendance loudly and persistently voiced their rejection of Texcor. Since that meeting, a battle has been waged by a constantly growing circle of area residents and investors who resent having to spend years and funds in this fashion. We are forced to de investing millions, of jobs and business growth, and an annual corporate gift to the county. They assured audiences there could never be any adverse effects on health or on the environment or on the unique quality of life we enjoy. They always closed their spiel with this promise: “If there is any significant local opposition, we will leave. We will go away.” That, of course, was the premise upon which was built an edifice of hype. Although such opposition materialized, the assault against the people of this region continues unabated, three years later. POLICE AGENCIES WARNING potential 22 JULY 12, 1991