KSDK-TV to Highlight Radiation Dangers in St Louis Area

Uphill BattleNEWS ALERT:  Barely one year after I scooped the local news media with my 2012 report, Missouri Health Agency Officials Refuse to Answer Questions About New Weldon Spring Cancer Report, I’ve learned KSDK-TV will broadcast an investigative report on the alleged impact radioactive waste sites are having on people’s health in the St. Louis area.

According to a promotional spot I watched on the NBC affiliate, investigative reporter Leisa Zigman’s first report on the topic is scheduled to air Thursday.

If you’re interested in this topic, I encourage you to read the reports in my series, Uphill Battle for Answers, and then let your elected officials know you want answers — especially if you live in an area close to one of the St. Louis area sites where radiation hazards exist.

"Three Days In August" Promotional PhotoBob McCarty is the author of Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice, a nonfiction book that’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com. His second book, The CLAPPER MEMO, is coming soon was released May 2013.

Do Residents Living Near Weldon Spring Site Deserve Compensation for Radiation Exposure?

Do residents living in neighborhoods near a former EPA Superfund site 30 miles west of St. Louis deserve compensation for being exposed to radioactive materials?  The answer to that question could very well be “Yes.”

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Located adjacent State Highway 94 in a once-rural section of St. Charles County, Mo., the Weldon Spring (Mo.) Site was contaminated during the production of 2, 4, 6 – trinitrotoluene (TNT) and 2, 4 and 2,6 Dinitrotoluene (DNT) by the U.S. Department of Army from 1941 to 1945.  It was the enrichment of uranium ore and thorium processing that took place from 1958 to 1966, however, that resulted in workers at the Atomic Energy Commission site being exposed to dangerously-high levels of radiation.  In 1987, the site made the list of the EPA’s most-hazardous properties.  NOTE:  More details about the site’s history, according to the DOE, can be found here.

The Weldon Spring Site has a lot in common with other trouble-filled sites under the purview of the federal government — in this case, the U.S. Department of Energy.  One is the Fernald Site 22 miles north of Cincinnati.

Though it operated on a smaller scale than its Show-Me State sister site, workers there are said to have performed largely the same tasks and, on occasion, handled overflow from Weldon Spring.

According to a report in The New York Times, those same workers were parties to a 1994 settlement with DOE that guarantees them lifetime benefits expected to cost the federal government at least $20 million.  Similarly, according to a news release April 4, workers at the Missouri site were parties to a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor that has paid them more than $39 million in compensation to date.

When one compares how residents living near the two sites have fared, one finds Ohioans better off — at least financially — than their neighbors almost 400 miles to the west.

This sign greets visitors as they enter the complex surrounding the “rock pile” at the Weldon Spring Site.

In 1989, according to the same Times article, some 14,000 residents living near the Fernald Site reached a $78 million settlement with DOE.  Conversely, no lawsuits have been filed and no settlements have been reached on behalf of any of the tens of thousands of residents living near the Missouri site.

Though officials with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services have, for more than three months, refused to answer questions about their controversial 2011 Weldon Spring Cancer Report and have done virtually nothing to inform the media or the public — not even the people living in five zip codes where leukemia and leukemia death rates were studied — about the findings of their report, I suspect personal-injury lawyers will find at least two statements in the report too tempting to pass up.

The first statement (below) echoes bureaucratic doublespeak:

Based on updated data from the 5-zip code area, the total number of leukemia deaths and the total number of leukemia deaths in those age 65 and older appears to be significantly higher than expected (Table 4 updated) but the actual leukemia death rates in the 5-zip code area were not significantly different from the statewide leukemia death rates (Table B).

The second statement (below) appears a short while later in the report and leaves one feeling perplexed:

Based on this analysis, we have concluded that there is no increased environmental risk of developing leukemia in the five ZIP-code area during 1996-2004 over that of the entire state.

Sadly, four out of five dentists who chew gum Missouri state legislators I contacted about the report seem inclined to ignore it completely, to discount it’s findings, to procrastinate about it and/or to simply shoot the messenger — me! — delivering questions about it.  Regardless of their predictable election-year reactions, the controversy is not likely to go away.

As I reported in an update following my attendance — as an observer, not a prospective client — at a litigant-recruitment meeting in St. Louis two months ago, the same group of New York City-based lawyers who represented first responders after 9/11 has already filed one lawsuit related to radiation exposure in the Coldwater Creek area of St. Louis.  In addition, they’ve dropped some super-sized hints about the possibility of even more lawsuits — perhaps involving residents living near the Weldon Spring Site!

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that those attorneys are holding their second Coldwater Creek “rainmaking session” Wednesday at 6 p.m. Central at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel.  The graphic at right holds the details.

CRASS COMMERCIAL MESSAGE:  Order a copy of my book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.

Saving America, Sharing the Pain

Paul R. Hollrah

By Paul R. Hollrah, Guest Blogger

On Dec. 3, Barack Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (a.k.a., “Debt Commission”) voted on the plan they had developed to save our country from utter fiscal ruin. The vote fell three short of the fourteen votes required by rule to send the plan to Congress for an up-or-down vote.

Voting in favor of the plan were the co-chairmen, former senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles; along with Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.); Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.); former Federal Reserve vice chairman Alice Rivlin; Honeywell Corp. CEO David Cote; and Ann Fudge, former CEO of Young & Rubicam.

Voting against the proposal were Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.); Reps. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.); and Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union.

If Obama expected courage from his commission members, he might have skipped over members of the House of Representatives, all of whom run for reelection in 2012, and union leaders such as Andy Stern, who could never be trusted to put the national interest first. Without going into detail, the commissioners recommended what can best be described as a little pain for everyone. They suggested cuts in Social Security and Medicare, the elimination of tax breaks for mortgage interest and child care, and, surprisingly, a reduction in tax rates for individuals and corporations.

As expected, howls of protest could be heard immediately from the right and from the left, but in each case from those who apparently would rather see the entire nation go down the drain while they scramble for the last remaining seats in a sinking ship of state. So, for those who are serious about saving a bit of the American Dream for our children and grandchildren, what are some of the things that could and should be done almost immediately?

REPEAL OBAMACARE

The first item of business should be to repeal Obamacare, replacing it with meaningful reform that eliminates fraud, waste, and bureaucratic paper-shuffling, protects families from financial ruin in cases of catastrophic illness, eliminates free healthcare for illegal aliens, charges patients only for justifiable doctor and hospital services, and focuses on strengthening the doctor-patient relationship.

CANCEL UNSPENT STIMULUS FUNDS

Of the $787 billion authorized by Congress under Obama’s ill-fated economic stimulus plan, some $292 billion remains unspent. These funds have been allocated to various government departments and agencies but have not been spent and could be withdrawn by act of Congress.

ESTABLISH SOCIAL SECURITY MEANS TESTING

In order to save Social Security for current and future generations, we should begin by answering this question:  Can we morally justify sending monthly Social Security checks to Warren Buffet and George Soros while millions of ordinary Social Security recipients must choose each day between the cost of food, healthcare, utility bills, and prescription drugs?

Anyone who believes in the sustainability of the current system, or who wishes to argue that, since an individual has paid into the system for 40 or 50 years, he/she has a right to withdraw full benefits for a lifetime, regardless of personal wealth, should please stop reading now… we’ve heard that silly argument before, and it is of little or no value in the current debate, given what is at stake.

An individual taxpayer born in 1945, who entered the workforce in 1965, and who retired in 2010 at age 65 with an annual salary of $110,000, will have paid a total of $126,715.89 into the system.  With a monthly benefit of $2,135, that individual will receive that same amount in benefits in just four years and eleven months. If he/she lives to be 85 years of age, the total amount paid to that individual will be $512,400… four times their total contributions.

A graduated reduction in Social Security benefits, beginning with annual incomes of $50,000 and zeroing-out benefits for those with annual incomes of $150,000, or more, would provide long-term sustainability for the system while not causing any undue amount of pain for current and future beneficiaries, regardless of income level. We simply must find the courage to do it.

REDUCE SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI) PAYMENTS

The SSI program guarantees a minimum level of income to financially needy individuals who are aged, blind, or disabled. However, the program has been substantially liberalized by extending benefits to many who are disabled by reason of addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling.

The State of California will soon reduce SSI outlays for more than 1.1 million low-income seniors and people with disabilities to their Dec. 1, 2008, level.  For an individual recipient, this means the maximum grant will drop from $907 per month to $870 per month, a 4.1 percent reduction. The Congress should direct the Social Security Administration to follow California’s
lead. SSI benefits should be available only to U.S. citizens and only to those who are unable to work due to age, blindness, or physical incapacity. We cannot continue to raid the Social Security System by paying benefits to able-bodied citizens who are many years away from retirement age.

ELIMINATE MANDATORY RETIREMENT AGE

One of the greatest mistakes our nation has ever made was to set a mandatory retirement age at 65.  Telling our most knowledgeable, most experienced, and most skilled workers to go home and sit on their behinds until they die, when the vast majority of workers are capable of being productive until age 70 or 75, makes no economic sense and only serves to swell the ranks of government entitlement recipients. The age of retirement should be left to negotiation between the individual and his/her employer, not dictated by government or corporate policy.

REDUCE FEDERAL WORKFORCE

The Congress should take immediate steps to reduce the size of the non-military federal workforce by ten percent over 10 years. According to 2009 data provided by the Office of Personnel Management, the total federal workforce for calendar year 2009 stood at 4.43 million — 2.77 million executive branch, 66,000 legislative branch and 1.59 million uniformed military.  Excluding our uniformed military, the federal workforce numbers approximately 2.84 million people.

A 10 percent workforce reduction would require the elimination of 284,000 non-military jobs.

The elimination of the U.S. Department of Education (5,000 employees, 2010 budget of $56 billion) and the U.S. Department of Energy (16,000 employees and more than 93,000 contract employees, annual budget approximately $25 billion), both unnecessary and unproductive organizations, would provide a good starting point.

ROLL BACK FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SALARIES

Recent news reports indicate that:  a) salaries of federal workers are roughly double the salaries paid for similar work in the private sector, and b) the number of federal jobs paying in excess of $150,000 per year has doubled under Barack Obama. Using the “power of the purse,” the Congress should begin immediately to roll back federal salaries to private sector levels.

ROLL BACK MINIMUM WAGE TO 2006 LEVELS

Since gaining control of Congress in 2006, Democrats have pushed through three increases in the minimum wage, a 40 percent increase from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour. Studies show that, for every 10 percent increase in the minimum wage, the overall number of jobs available decreases by as much as 2 percent.

The impact on entry-level jobs is even greater.  For each 10 percent increase in the minimum wage, the number of entry-level jobs for teenagers and unskilled workers is reduced by from 4 to 5 percent.

At the very least, the Congress should establish a two-tier minimum wage… a $5.15 per hour minimum wage for teens and unskilled entry-level workers and a $7.25 per hour minimum wage for those with marketable skills who find themselves temporarily unemployed.

ELIMINATE WASTE, FRAUD AND INEFFICIENCY

It is clear we cannot rely on Obama to eliminate waste, fraud, and inefficiency. He has identified only $140 million from his $3.6 trillion 2010 budget request as wasteful. He has also proposed a partial offset of the cost of ObamaCare by cutting $622 billion in Medicare and Medicaid “waste and inefficiencies” over the next 10 years. We’ll never know if that is a hard number or if it was
merely a “blue sky” number invented to help sell his healthcare program. Either way, it’s a good place to start. We only need to inject a bit of courage into those who represent us in Congress.

The dire predictions of where we are headed if we fail to take decisive action now should scare the pants off every thinking American. Let’s take our medicine now so that our children and grandchildren won’t find themselves having to swallow a far more bitter pill in years to come.

Hollrah is a senior fellow at the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a contributing editor for Family Security Matters and a number of online publications.  He resides in northeast Oklahoma.

Ethanol Decision Could Do More Harm Than Good

Two months ago, I warned you about President Barack Obama’s EPA blending politics and science.  Now, according to an EPA news release issued Wednesday, the “blending” process appears to be complete:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today waived a limitation on selling fuel that is more than 10 percent ethanol for model year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. The waiver applies to fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – known as E15 – and only to model year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. This represents the first of a number of actions that are needed from federal, state and industry towards commercialization of E15 gasoline blends. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made the decision after a review of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) extensive testing and other available data on E15’s impact on engine durability and emissions.

What does that mean for American consumers accustomed to gasoline that already contains up to 10 percent ethanol?  Plenty!  In fact, the decision could do more harm than good, according to Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.

In August, Gerard said this decision — made even before key safety and effectiveness studies have been completed — “could threaten vehicle performance and safety, void manufacturers’ warranties, confuse consumers – and create a public backlash against renewable fuels.”

“Consumers need to be assured that the gasoline they purchase will not damage vehicles, void warranties or erode air quality gains,” Gerard added.  “And we as an industry want to continue producing safe and reliable fuels for consumers now and into the future.”

To learn more about the ethanol issue, watch the Reason.tv video below:

Borrowing a variant of some now-famous words Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart used to craft his opinion about a landmark 1964 case, I say, “I know it when I see it!” and what I see is this: Corn Ethanol Equals Cornography!

UPDATE 10/16/10 at 5:17 p.m. Central: Cross-posted at BigGovernment.com.

Does Obama Plan to Soak Taxpayers in Ethanol?

Earlier today, I highlighted the fact that, despite new advertising claims made by General Motors, taxpayers were still on the hook for the bailout money the automaker received.  Now, I can report that the Obama Administration appears to be preparing to “soak” taxpayers again — this time by touting cellulosic ethanol as a viable alternative fuel that will generate tens of thousands of jobs during a stop in Macon, Mo., next week.

In an article published late yesterday, The Hannibal Courier-Post reported President Barack Obama is likely to visit a POET Energy ethanol plant near Macon Wednesday as part of his “White House to Main Street” tour.

The visit to the POET plant is hardly coincidental, especially when one considers the fact that, on Tuesday, the company announced at a National Press Club event that it had applied for a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

Why does POET, a company that bills itself as “the world’s largest ethanol producer,” need a loan guarantee?  Because it plans to build the first plant for commercial production of cellulosic ethanol, a product manufactured from corn cobs.

Make no mistake, cellulosic ethanol is a new twist on an old game.  And I hope it works.  But what if it isn’t really any better than the corn-base variety described in the video below as, among other things, “bad for taxpayers, bad for consumers, bad for the environment, and horrible for the world’s poor.”

Is it worth it to risk millions — or billions, perhaps — of taxpayer dollars to help POET achieve its published goal to “have a hand in producing 3.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year by 2022″?

Should we ignore what Lester Brown at National Review’s The Corner said four years ago about corn ethanol:

“Corn ethanol is a boondoggle of gigantic proportions, foisted on the American public by an uncompetitive corn ethanol industry that sees the global warming scare as its lifeline. And this boondoggle harms the world’s poor, not just working Americans who have to pay more for gas. A responsible Congress would cut the ethanol mandate and subsidy to nothing.”

Should we ignore what the Financial Times reported Oct. 24, 2008, under the headline, Investors suffer as US ethanol boom dries up:

Six of the biggest publicly traded US ethanol producers have lost more than $8.7bn in market value since the peak of the boom in mid-2006 and the beginning of this month, according to an analysis by the Financial Times. The boom followed a 2005 law requiring refiners to mix billions of gallons of the biofuel with petrol.

I think we should not.  Borrowing a variant of some now-famous words Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart used to craft his opinion about a landmark 1964 case, I say, “I know it when I see it!” and what I see is this: Corn ethanol is Cornography!

Nuclear Weapons Facility in Texas on Lockdown! (Update)


The Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration PANTEX Plant, the nation’s only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility located 17 miles northeast of Amarillo, Texas, is on lockdown, according to a news release from the facility, the text of which appears below:

NEWS RELEASE

Pantex Activates Emergency Response Organization

The Plant is in a lockdown status and the situation is being evaluated in order to facilitate security actions. Pantex employees are sheltered-in-place.

Pantex’s response effort is being conducted by the Emergency Response Organization, a highly trained group of employees with detailed knowledge of plant operations and emergency response procedures. These employees represent plant functions such as security, logistics, safety, medical response, radiological assessment, firefighting, operations and public information.

The emergency responders’ top priorities are the safety of the public, workers and the environment, as well as ensuring security is maintained.

Pantex is also in the process of establishing communication links with various local, state and federal government agencies that will work with Pantex and communicate with the public during the response to this event.

Public information for this event is currently being coordinated by the Pantex Public Affairs Organization, which will release additional information as it becomes available.  Public Affairs will notify the media regarding scheduling interviews and/or news conferences.

UPDATE #1 1/15/10 at 10:15 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that the facility is managed and operated by B&W Pantex and that the plant’s mission, in addition to assembly and disassembly of nuclear weapons, includes the following: maintenance, modification and evaluation of nuclear weapons; interim storage of plutonium pits from dismantled nuclear weapons; and fabrication of high explosive components for nuclear weapons.  The PANTEX web site, http://www.pantex.com, was, at last check, down.

UPDATE #2 1/15/10 at 10:50 a.m. Central: Fox News reports that the lockdown stemmed from hunters being spotted too close to the facility.  It will be interesting to see if the hunters are just “good ol’ boys” or would-be terrorists conducting a so-called “dry run” to see (1) how close they can get to the facility and (2) how local officials responded to the event.  I’ll consider this “closed” unless I hear something to disprove the Fox News report.

UPDATE #3 1/15/10 at 11:48 a.m. Central: According to a local television report published at 11:38 a.m. locla, the lockdown at PANTEX is over, though officials at the plant would not disclose the nature of the security incident that prompted the lockdown.

UPDATE #4 1/15/10 at 12:58 p.m. Central: AFP confirms via Carson County Sheriff Tam Terry that duck hunters were duck hunters.

Developing…


Inhofe Launches Investigation of Climate Change

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)

Yesterday and today, I reported that Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) was threatening to launch a “ClimateGate” investigation.  Late this afternoon, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works did just that.

Senator Inhofe sent letters to several scientists, some of whom allegedly manipulated data to prove the scientific “consensus” of global warming, as well as to the inspectors general of several federal agencies, notifying them to retain documents related to the release of emails from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit.

“The stakes in this controversy are significant, as it appears that the basis of federal programs, pending EPA rulemakings, and cap-and-trade legislation was contrived and fabricated,” Senator Inhofe said. “Moreover, it appears that, in an attempt to conceal the manipulation of climate data, information disclosure laws may have been violated.

“I certainly don’t condone the manner in which these emails were released; however, now that they are in the public domain, lawmakers have an obligation to determine the extent to which the so-called ‘consensus’ of global warming, formed with billions of taxpayer dollars, was contrived in the biased minds of the world’s leading climate scientists.”

The letters are the first step in the investigation of the climate scandal.  Last week, emails released by a computer hacker revealed that several leading climate scientists allegedly manipulated climate data and research used by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  These scientists also appear to have refused outside access to their raw data, obstructed freedom of information requests, and plotted ways to prevent the publication of papers in peer-reviewed journals by scientists who question global warming alarmism.

* * *

To read Senator Inhofe’s press release and see who received letters from the senator, click here.

See also: Inhofe Threatens ‘ClimateGate’ Investigation