Depleted Uranium

CPT INTERNATIONAL: Full-time Indigenous Peoples Solidarity field team member sought


Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is accepting expressions of interest for the position of: Full-time Field Team Member.  All members of CPT’s Peacemaker Corps and qualified people from outside the corps are eligible to apply.

Team: Indigenous Peoples Solidarity (IPS)

Reports to Project Support Coordinator

Status: Full-time, stipended, three year term

Stipend: $1000US/month (independent living – no “team house”)

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada) – Turtle Island

Start Date: December 1, 2017

JONESBOROUGH,TN REFLECTION: Activism, War, and the Military-Industrial Complex

[Note: Names have been withheld because two of CPT's Depleted Uranium (DU) delegation partners had their tires slashed or punctured while the delegation was in the Jonesborough area.]

Working for a worthy cause, forming relationships with people with common convictions, and experiencing occasional large or small victories is a fine life.  But I am an activist not only because I support causes passionately, but sometimes, because I feel driven to oppose wrongs that have ugly, tragic consequences. 

I had come to Jonesborough, Tennessee as part of the third Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation to that town.  The first two had collected soil and water samples and sent them for scientific analysis. The results clearly showed that Aerojet Ordnance Tennessee, a munitions manufacturer, was polluting the soil and water with uranium.  Our delegation was there in alliance with the local Appalachian Peace Education Center, to acquaint the locals with the results.  We also wanted to let them know the tragic effects uranium weapons are having around the world. Tuesday, 16 July was one of the days when I came face to face with the consequences of war, what I am here opposing.  That morning, I met a former Aerojet Ordnance Tennessee (AOT) employee.  Convinced that AOT was damaging his health, he became involved in an unsafe working conditions strike.  AOT terminated him.

JONESBOROUGH, TN (USA): Activists reveal radioactive pollution

  Ken Edwards, Brethren Pastor and member
of the Appalachian Peace Education Center
Aerojet Action Project and CPTer Sister
Rosemarie Milazzo discuss soil and water
samples that were part of
the Ketterer Study which reported local
uranium contaminationand released by
CPT DU DelegationPressConference on
Monday,  July 15, 2013.

Christian Peacemaker 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.

JONESEBOROUGH, TN: Encountering Appalachia

 [NOTE: The following reflection by Schallert, who was part of the October Depleted Uranium delegation to Jonesborough, has been edited for length.  The original version is available here.]

On the morning of 28 October, the day before our “Occupy Aerojet” action, I spent a couple hours in the neighborhoods around Aerojet Ordnance—which manufactures depleted uranium weapons—handing out fliers about the storytelling and soil and water sampling we were to do the following day to expose the dangers of depleted uranium.  

My first stop was Davy Crockett High School, about a mile from Aerojet Ordnance on State Route 34.  The school was closed for holiday, but I happened to meet three janitors on break.  I mentioned the event to them, and that some of the soil and water samples around the plant had come back positive for depleted uranium (DU), the toxic and radioactive waste product from extracting highly enriched uranium for fuel.

“Encountering Rural Appalachia”- Jonesborough, TN Delegation 2011

On the morning of October 28th, the day before our “Occupy Aerojet” action, I spent a couple hours in the neighborhoods around Aerojet Ordnance, handing out fliers about the storytelling and soil and water sampling we were to do the following day. The varied reactions serve as a portrait of the differing interests and concerns within the Campaign to End Depleted Uranium Munition Production in rural Tennessee.

My first stop was Davy Crockett High School, about a mile from Aerojet Ordnance on State Route 34.

JONESBOROUGH, TN: CPT conducts ‘Occupy Aerojet’ action.

 On 29 October, outside of the Aerojet Ordnance plant.  CPT delegates and members of the local community, wearing “Decontaminate Jonesborough” shirts, set up tents in an effort to publicly imagine a new Aerojet.  Participants split into groups and surveyed the perimeter of the company grounds, documenting notable buildings and materials.  Each group then had a chance to re-imagine what the grounds and buildings could be used for once the plant is no longer producing depleted uranium.  One group suggested that the venues could be come a museum depicting the past horrors inflicted by nuclear weapons, along with ways to work toward a more peaceful future.  Another group suggested Aerojet could become a retreat center or a gathering place for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.  Some participants suggested planting climbing vines like Virginia Creeper that pull heavy metals from the environment as part of a cleanup process.

Uncovering Depleted Uranium Munition-Jonesborough, TN Delegation

A few months ago Depleted Uranium (DU) was a sinister weapon of war to my ears, albeit intangible and nondescript. Confronting Aerojet Ordnance, a DU weapon manufacturer outside Jonesborough, TN on this CPT Delegation, is serving as an immersion course in DU munitions and the physics and chemistry behind this radioactive waste. The fog is slowly lifting for me.

JONESBOROUGH, TN: Depleted Uranium delegation collects samples to be examined for DU contamination, participates in press conference.

Aerojet Ordnance, Inc. in Jonesborough, TN is a Depleted Uranium (DU) processing plant with an unsavory history of handling toxic waste.  The CPT DU delegation in Jonesborough has helped Dr. Michael Ketterer—professor at Northern Arizona State University—collect soil, water, and sediment samples in the area to be examined for DU deposits.  Previous samples taken by Dr. Ketterer confirm DU contamination in areas around the plant and also in the Little Limestone Creek.  CPT delegates accompanied Dr. Ketterer to three different homes in the area on Saturday, 22 October, collecting new samples, serendipitously gaining access to a home that backs up to Aerojet's fence line.

DU, A Multi-Faceted Issue - Depleted Uranium delegation: Jonesborough, TN - Oct 21-30, 2011

Now that I've been here in Jonesborough longer, I'm starting to feel less at a loss for where to start with the issue of DU. Two things in particular have helped that happen.  First, on Saturday, our delegation helped Dr. Michael Ketterer of Northern Arizona University collect some more samples for his ongoing work in tracing the level and spread of DU contamination from Aerojet Ordnance.  Then on Sunday, we had a press conference in Jonesborough, which connected us with a few people from the local community.

Unexpected questions - Depleted Uranium delegation: Jonesborough, TN - Oct 21-30, 2011

The more I learn about depleted uranium, the more I realize how little we know for certain about its effects on quality of life and health.  While we can say for certain that war kills, the details about DU's impact in the whole picture are conflicted and under-researched.