19 July 2013
JONESBOROUGH, TN (USA): Activists reveal
by Michael Henes
Ken Edwards, Brethren Pastor and member
Teams (CPT) and Appalachian Peace Education Center (APEC) held a press
conference on Monday 15 July announcing the findings of a recent study
revealing uranium contamination in the area surrounding Aerojet Ordnance
Tennessee (AOT) in Jonesborough.
Johnson City Press newspaper and NBC-affiliate WJHL Channel 11
attended the conference held on Old State Route 34 across from the northeast
Tennessee uranium weapons facility.
Standing at a table
arrayed with soil samples gathered outside AOT, representatives of CPT and APEC
spoke about the contamination in the area while affirming their faith in the
goodness of humanity.
John Mueller, a former
chemist, noted that a 2013 study has demonstrated that soil, creek sediment and
biological life near the plant are contaminated with waste from the
manufacturing of radioactive weaponry.
“Because Aerojet is
the only nearby company that can work with processed uranium, we assert that
the Aerojet plant is polluting the environment with uranium,” Mr. Mueller said.
Amarillo, TX resident
Rusty Tomlinson spoke about the health implications of the uranium
contamination. “Studies of
veterans exposed to uranium weapons showed that male vets have three times the
normal rate of children with birth defects,” he said. “Female vets have four times the normal rate.” He cited the case of Army major Doug
Rokke whose contact with uranium munitions in Iraq in 1991 caused
life-threatening illnesses with which he continues to struggle.
Depleted Uranium, widely
used by the U.S. military, is both highly toxic and radioactive. It becomes an aerosol fume when it
combusts—as part of the process of uranium waste incineration and as a result
of munitions deployment—and has traveled airborne thousands of miles. When
ingested, DU particles travel via the bloodstream throughout the body where it
can cause cancer and disease associated with resultant DNA disruption. (source:
Roselie Bertell in “Depleted Uranium: All the Questions About DU and Gulf War
Syndrome Are Not Yet Answered,” International
Journal of Health Services 36.3 (2006): 503-20.
Aerojet declined an
offer by CPT to participate in the press conference. Monday, guards looked on as Jonesborough resident and APEC
Board member Ken Edwards handed fliers to people driving by. However, when Edwards, a Church of the Brethren
Minister, began approaching people within the facility parking lot, a guard
came out and told him, “You cannot do that here.”
Rosemarie Milazzo, emphasized CPT and APEC’s commitment to a nonviolent path
toward transformation. “We believe
all weapons are immoral and their use is incompatible with the most basic
principles of humanity and environmental health protection. How can we as a civilized society
continue to harm others by disregarding our responsibility to care for and
protect our land?”
|CPT reservist Merwyn DeMello proclaims the
reality of local radioactive contamination from
Aerojet Ordnance Tennessee as part of the CPT
Jonesborough, TN Delegation.