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late, however, on whether that is likely to happen. “We’ve made it very clear to Washington what the time frame is,” he said. The storage proposal allows the plutonium pits to be electronically inventoried while still in the storage igloos. As a result, radiation exposure to employees will become “a fraction” of current levels, officials said. The risk of radiation exposure under the proposal will be reduced by 95 percent, said Dave Whitson, project manager over the storage proposal. Whatever storage method is used, plutonium is at Pantex to stay for an indefinite interim period, which could range from six to 20 years, according to DOE figures. The stacking proposal could be adapted to provide for a permanent storage, Johnson said during last month’s media tour of the plant. “The key issue on long-term storage is the facilities themselves,” Johnson said. “The current [igloos] may be adequate and I think the Stage Right concept would be very adaptable to any type of new facility you would design.” “Stage Right” is the name given to the proposal. Stage refers to storage of a weapon or weapon component. Mason & Hangar and various Energy Department laboratories have been working on the Stage Right plan for nearly a year now. It uses commercially available equipment such as shielded fork lifts and electronic inventory equipment. The Amarillo GlobeNews reported recently that eight area companies would be called on to provide about $400,000 worth of equipment if Stage Right is implemented. Some area residents continued to voice their opposition to Pantex expansion and storage of plutonium there when the Energy Department conducted public hearings September 29 and 30 in Amarillo, to solicit comments on DOE plans to downsize and modernize the nation’s aging weapons complex. Pantex is among five sites whose mission could expand under the DOE’ s plans for reconfiguration of the government’s nuclear weapons complex. Officials have said Pantex could be assigned work that was done at other plants, such as the plutonium process ,ing once done at the now environmentally ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 512 453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip beleaguered Rocky Flats plant. Other locations included in the reconfiguration planning are the Savannah River plant in South Carolina, the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory near Idaho Falls, the Oak Ridge complex in Tennessee and the Nevada Test Site near Las Vegas all potential sites for storing, processing and limited fabrication of nuclear materials, said James Nicks, an official in the DOE’ s. reconfiguration office, who was quoted in news reports about the hearings. No decision on reconfiguration is expected until late 1994 or early 1995, he said. Although concerns about plutonium storage were raised by farmers and watchdog groups, dozens of people told the DOE during the latest round of hearings that they favored expansion of Pantex, which now employs about 3,000 people. Those pushing for expansion include the Amarillo City Commission, the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, the Amarillo Economic Development Corp., and Panhandle 2000, a group of business people. Additional hearings concerning Pantex are expected after Thanksgiving. Note: Amarillo Democratic Congerssaman Bill Sarpalius voted for the free trade agreement. KERRY HAGLUND Kerry Haglund is a freelance writer in Amarillo. Progressives Form Caucus Nearly one-third of the 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives have formed a new reform-minded caucus, the Legislative Study Group, to develop strategies to promote progressive legislation, particularly in public education, health and human services and criminal justice. The new progressive caucus already has 42 members, with Representative Kevin Bailey, Houston Democrat, as chair. “We’re confident that we’re going to be over 50 fairly soon,” Bailey said. “I think there are more decent votes in the House than people realize. We just haven’t done a good job of keeping them together.” The success of the Conservative Caucus, whose members killed or changed many bills during the last session, inspired non-conservative members to talk about banding together, Bailey said. “We haven’t been as prepared to take them on as we could have been,” he said. The new caucus’ name is reminiscent of the House Study Group, which was formed by reform lawmakers in the early 1970s to provide independent bill analyses, in what was seen as a challenge to the conservative House leadership. That group evolved into the bipartisan House Research Organization, which Bailey said still does a good job in reviewing most bills that are set for House debate. The new Legislative Study Group will focus on particular bills on the “state” calendar as well as bills on the “local and consent” calendar, which is supposed to contain non-controversial measures but occasionally is used to sneak bad bills through the process. “We will also try to clean up bills we want passed so they aren’t vulnerable to points of order,” he said. He said the Conservative Caucus, which included 65 House members and six senators under the leadership of Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa, was effective in organizing, holding daily briefings on legislation that was coming up and developing floor strategies during the session. “There’s no reason we can’t do equally as well,” Bailey said. The caucus intends to hire at least one person next year and as many as four during the legislative session. While the Conservative Caucus has taken the position that it is not required to disclose contributions or expenditures, as the House Administration Committee has recommended, until the full House ratifies that rule in 1995, the Legislative Study Group will disclose its financing next January, Bailey said. He added that the group had kept House Speaker Pete Laney, Democrat of Hale Center, apprised of its activities. Members of the caucus, all Democrats, include: Steering committee Kevin Bailey, Houston, chair; Nancy McDonald, El Paso, membership coordinator; Vilma Luna, Corpus Christi; Sylvester Turner, Houston; Elliott Naishtat, Austin; Glen Maxey, Austin; John Hirschi, Wichita Falls; Ciro Rodriguez, San Antonio; Karyne Conley, San Antonio; Irma Rangel, Kingsville, ex officio as chair of the Hispanic caucus; Al Edwards, Houston, ex officio as chair of the black caucus. Other founding members Roberto Alonzo; Dallas; Fred Bosse, Houston; Henry Cuellar, Laredo; Renato Cuellar, Weslaco; Debra Danburg, Houston; Diana Davila, Houston; Yvonne Davis, Dallas; Eddie De La Garza, Edinburg; Wilhelmina Delco, Austin; Harold Dutton, Houston; Yolanda Navarro Flor8s, Houston; Pete Gallego, Alpine; Mario Gallegos, Houston; Helen Giddings Dallas; Patricia Gray, Galveston; Sherri Greenberg, Austin; Christine Hernandez, San Antonio; Scott Hochberg, Houston; Mike Martin, Galveston; Paul Moreno, El Paso; Allen Place, Gatesville; Robert Puente, San Antonio; Sylvia Romo, San Antonio; Jim Solis, Harlingen; Garfield Thompson, Fort Worth; Leticia Van de Putte, San Antonio; Doyle Willis, Fort Worth; Ken Yarbrough, Houston; Zeb 18 NOVEMBER 26, 1993