Buffett says he will not help tribes or remove Klamath dams at woodstock of capitialism

Omaha, NE – Members of California’s three largest Indian Tribes and allies from commercial fishing and conservation groups demonstrated today at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, known as the Woodstock of Capitalism. The group is demanding the removal of four Klamath Dams owned by Berkshire subsidiary PacifiCorp. Two members of the coalition asked questions directly to Buffett and his partner Charles Munger before a crowd of 27,000 shareholders. Buffett denied there need for dams remove with an uneducated remark.

Ronnie Pellegrini, wife of a commercial salmon fisherman, traveled to the meeting with her two teenage daughters. Husband Paul was out to sea to take to advantage of limited fishing opportunities. Pellegrini explained to Buffett that her family lost 95 percent of its income last year because her husband is a salmon fisherman. Salmon fishing was banned along 700 miles of California and Oregon coastline last year due to low runs of Klamath salmon. Buffett’s dams are blamed for the declines of salmon. In describing the plight of salmon fishing families Pellegrini said, “they’re barely hanging onto their livelihoods because of the Klamath River crisis.”

Wendy George, council member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe stated, “my people are river people, our entire culture, religion and subsistence is based on the river.” George appealed to Buffett to meet with the Tribes in order to find a solution to the problem.

In response the normally polished Buffett fumbled through papers to read a written response. Instead of taking responsibility for his company’s actions, Buffett stated that regulators such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would decide the issue. Buffett declined to acknowledge that the Tribes are seeking a negotiated settlement with the company as is common in dam relicensing proceedings.

Leaf Hillman of the Karuk Tribe said, “I am overwhelmed with disappointment. Although Mr. Buffett stressed over and over to young investors the importance of researching your investments, he clearly has a poor understanding of Klamath issues.”

Buffett remarked to the crowd that “27 parties are involved in dam negotiations and there are 27 opinions.”

Hillman said, “there are actually 28 parties, but there are only two opinions about dam removal. PacifiCorp’s and everyone else’s. Everyone else includes Tribes, conservation groups, counties, farmers, and governments. We have a real chance to end the Klamath crisis in a way that saves Berskshire money, yet PacifiCorp refuses to work with us in good faith.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as well as the California Energy Commission have reported that dam removal is cheaper than relicensing even if the energy lost is replaced by other carbon neutral energy sources.

Even the fiscally conservative Forbes Magazine opined that, “it would have been more heroic [of Buffett] to agree to meet with the people affected and to put his weight behind a fair and proper solution.” link to www.forbes.com

“Its ridiculous,” concludes Hillman. “What Mr. Buffett doesn’t know is killing us.”

Author: Klamath Riverkeeper
E-mail: klamath(at)riseup.net

Nuclear Power is Green – NOT

How green is nuclear power?

By Mark Clayton | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

“Saying nuclear is carbon-free is not true,” says Uwe Fritsche, a researcher at the Oko Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, who has conducted a life-cycle analysis of the plants.

Nuclear power has more than just a little greenhouse gas attached to it, when mining uranium ore, refining and enriching fuel, building the plant, and operating it are included. A big 1,250 megawatt plant produces the equivalent of 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year during its life, Dr. Fritsche says.

Officials in the nuclear power industry say references to carbon-free energy in their promotions refer only to the power-plant operation – and are not intended to describe carbon emissions during the entire nuclear life cycle.

….new reactors gives two to 10 times less climate solution for the amount of coal-power displaced than if you had bought cheaper solutions with the same dollars.”

Found on the Climate Crisis Coalition website: www.climatecrisiscoalition.org

Here is entire article: www.csmonitor.com/2007/0307/p01s04-sten.html?page=1


The idea that nuclear energy is carbon neutral goes uncontested in the media and general public. What can we make of this collective denial?

The following article was written in New Internationalist Magazine (382). It shows that the construction and decommissioning of a nuclear power station and is far more carbon intensive than coal or gas.

Is nuclear power really a solution to climate change? Nuclear power plants may not directly emit climate-damaging carbon dioxide, but if you look at the whole lifecycle of a nuclear power station its environmental credentials are pretty shaky.

The nuclear process employs energy-intensive industries dependent on vast quantities of fossil fuels. Uranium mining, enrichment and transport across the globe; the construction and decommissioning of facilities; and the processing, transport and storage of radioactive wastes. All these consume huge amounts of carbon-based energy such as oil and coal. Nuclear power simply can’t hold a candle to renewable energy technologies such as windmills and photovoltaic panels with their minimal reliance on fossil fuel use.

The Oko Institut in Germany released a 10-year study back in 1997 that found that in a full lifecycle comparison of various energy technologies, nuclear had nearly twice the carbon dioxide equivalent of wind power – even factoring-in the phenomenal difference in power output (kilowatts per hour). A more recent study factored-in the declining ratio of uranium to mined ore in rapidly dwindling uranium sources and found emissions increase as more mining, refining and transport is needed to compensate for poorer quality ore. The report concludes that overall emissions needed for nuclear power are five times higher than even the Oko Institut estimate. Every new nuclear power station creates a further demand for uranium and its attendant infrastructure, which in turn spirals energy demand upwards.

For the sake of argument, let’s look at nuclear power plants per se and ignore the lifecycle analysis (though nuclear power plants themselves release unknown quantities of greenhouse gases more powerful than carbon dioxide – such as the ozone-depleting chloro- and hydro-fluorocarbons as well as sulphur hexafluoride). How many new nuclear plants would we need to stop the worst excesses of climate change?

Renewables can meet Britain’s energy needs

Microrenewables – renewable energy technology suitable for home use – are demonstrating enormous potential for individuals literally to take power into their own hands. The New Economics Foundation reports that if a third of electricity customers installed just 2 kilowatts of microrenewables (either wind or solar), it would match the capacity of the British nuclear programme.1 Furthermore, community-owned and managed renewable energy initiatives are on the rise, with Scotland taking the lead.

Simon Johnson
- e-mail: virtual3(at)mac.com

Depleted Uranium Situation Worsens Requiring Immediate Action By Bush, Blair, Olmert

Depleted Uranium Situation Worsens Requiring Immediate Action By Bush, Blair, OlmertUranium weapons are being used in Lebanon which means it is a NUCLEAR WAR! These weapons are extremely poisoness and deadly…along with being illegal by all conventions and treaties. These so-called “depleted” uranium weapons are actually not depleted, and their use constitutes a war crime.

By: Dr. Doug Rokke, PhD., former Director, U.S. Army Depleted Uranium Project

July 24, 2006

The delivery of at least 100 GBU 28 bunker busters bombs containing depleted uranium warheads by the United States to Israel for use against targets in Lebanon will result in additional radioactive and chemical toxic contamination with consequent adverse health and environmental effects throughout the middle east.

Today, U.S., British, and now Israeli military personnel are using illegal uranium munitions- America’s and England’s own “dirty bombs” while U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Defense, and British Ministry of Defence officials deny that there are any adverse health and environmental effects as a consequence of the manufacture, testing, and/or use of uranium munitions to avoid liability for the willful and illegal dispersal of a radioactive toxic material – depleted uranium.

The use of uranium weapons is absolutely unacceptable, and a crime against humanity. Consequently the citizens of the world and all governments must force cessation of uranium weapons use. I must demand that Israel now provide medical care to all DU casualties in Lebanon and clean up all DU contamination.

U.S. and British officials have arrogantly refused to comply with their own regulations, orders, and directives that require United States Department of Defense officials to provide prompt and effective medical care to “all” exposed individuals. Reference: Medical Management of Unusual Depleted Uranium Casualties, DOD, Pentagon, 10/14/93, Medical Management of Army personnel Exposed to Depleted Uranium (DU) Headquarters, U.S. Army Medical Command 29 April 2004, and section 2-5 of U.S. Army Regulation 700-48. Israeli officials must not do so now.

They also refuse to clean up dispersed radioactive Contamination as required by Army Regulation- AR 700-48: “Management of Equipment Contaminated With Depleted Uranium or Radioactive Commodities” (Headquarters, Department Of The Army, Washington, D.C., September 2002) and U.S. Army Technical Bulletin- TB 9-1300-278: “Guidelines For Safe Response To Handling, Storage, And Transportation Accidents Involving Army Tank Munitions Or Armor Which Contain Depleted Uranium” (Headquarters, Department Of The Army, Washington, D.C., JULY 1996). Specifically section 2-4 of United States Army Regulation-AR 700-48 dated September 16, 2002 requires that:

(1) “Military personnel “identify, segregate, isolate, secure, and label all RCE” (radiologically contaminated equipment).

(2) “Procedures to minimize the spread of radioactivity will be implemented as soon as possible.”

(3) “Radioactive material and waste will not be locally disposed of through burial, submersion, incineration, destruction in place, or abandonment” and

(4) “All equipment, to include captured or combat RCE, will be surveyed, packaged, retrograded, decontaminated and released IAW Technical Bulletin 9-1300-278, DA PAM 700-48″ (Note: Maximum exposure limits are specified in Appendix F).

The previous and current use of uranium weapons, the release of radioactive components in destroyed U.S. and foreign military equipment, and releases of industrial, medical, research facility radioactive materials have resulted in unacceptable exposures. Therefore, decontamination must be completed as required by U.S. Army Regulation 700-48 and should include releases of all radioactive materials resulting from military operations.

The extent of adverse health and environmental effects of uranium weapons contamination is not limited to combat zones but includes facilities and sites where uranium weapons were manufactured or tested including Vieques; Puerto Rico; Colonie, New York; Concord, MA; Jefferson Proving Grounds, Indiana; and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Therefore medical care must be provided by the United States Department of Defense officials to all individuals affected by the manufacturing, testing, and/or use of uranium munitions. Thorough environmental remediation also must be completed without further delay.

I am amazed that fifteen years after was I asked to clean up the initial DU mess from Gulf War 1 and over ten years since I finished the depleted uranium project that United States Department of Defense officials and others still attempt to justify uranium munitions use while ignoring mandatory requirements. I am dismayed that Department of Defense and Department of Energy officials and representatives continue personal attacks aimed to silence or discredit those of us who are demanding that medical care be provided to all DU casualties and that environmental remediation is completed in compliance with U.S. Army Regulation 700-48. But beyond the ignored mandatory actions the willful dispersal of tons of solid radioactive and chemically toxic waste in the form of uranium munitions is illegal ( www.traprockpeace.org/karen_parker_du_illegality.pdf ) and just does not even pass the common sense test and according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, DHS, is a dirty bomb. DHS issued “dirty bomb” response guidelines, www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/fr-cont.html, on January 3, 2006 for incidents within the United States but ignore DOD use of uranium weapons and existing DOD regulations. These guidelines specifically state that: “Characteristics of RDD and IND Incidents: A radiological incident is defined as an event or series of events, deliberate or accidental, leading to the release, or potential release, into the environment of radioactive material in sufficient quantity to warrant consideration of protective actions. Use of an RDD or IND is an act of terror that produces a radiological incident.” Thus the use of uranium munitions is “an act or terror” as defined by DHS. Finally continued compliance with the infamous March 1991 Los Alamos Memorandum that was issued to ensure continued use of uranium munitions can not be justified.

In conclusion: the President of the United States- George W. Bush, the Prime Minister of Great Britain-Tony Blair, and the Prime Minister of Israel Olmert must acknowledge and accept responsibility for willful use of illegal uranium munitions- their own “dirty bombs”- resulting in adverse health and environmental effects.

President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and Prime Minister Olmert should order:
1. medical care for all casualties,
2. thorough environmental remediation,
3. immediate cessation of retaliation against all of us who demand compliance with medical care and environmental remediation requirements,
4. and stop the already illegal the use (UN finding) of depleted uranium munitions.
References- these references are copies the actual regulations and orders and other pertinent official documents:

More references:
FOCUS | Bush Admin. Rushing More Bombs to Israel
The Bush administration is rushing precision-guided bombs to Israel. The request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike. An arms-sale package approved last year allows Israel to purchase from the United States as many as 100 “bunker buster” weapons, GBU-28s developed for penetrating hardened command centers located deep underground.


Since the ’60s, the scientific community has been hammering away about the harm being done to the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. They knew that the planet would warm gradually, and that it was necessary to start slowing down the use of CO-2 producing energy. They didn’t have any concrete evidence of what was in the future but they knew it would cause change. Well, that was enough to get some legislation passed that helped a little. In fact, it helped allot in Los Angeles where smog had become a huge problem, but major changes in US and world use of carbon based fuels were difficult to make happen.

For decades, oil companies and the Energy Industry hired scientists to refute the claims of global warming. These “company scientists” gave bogus reports and tried to disprove every attempt by the real scientific community to bring a stronger awareness to the subject and get major legislation passed.

In ’96 an oceanographer named Wally Broeker discovered the connection between ocean circulation and abrupt climate change. This was absolutely mind boggling news – that the result of global warming would be an abrupt (rather than the 10,000 year transition as had long been accepted) flip into “ice age type” weather patterns. This new information was slowly being accepted in the scientific community, and in ’98 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery. This fact, that there is abrupt climate change coming, jolted the neo-cons into running the, then, Gov. George W. Bush in the Presidential Primary, and they did so using any means necessary to guarantee a win (push polling Senator McCain, keeping democrats off of Florida’s voting rolls, etc.). When Bush became President he immediately turned 180 degrees on his campaign pledges and started on his disastrous environmental melt down.

So, in 2001, the scientific community decided to do something that could not be refuted by anyone. They put together a world wide commission of almost 3,000 experts – The International Arctic Science Committee – who came up with several possible scenarios from computer models of very dramatic changes, to more modest climate changes, and averaged the entire array to one that they all agree is very likely – The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.

Based on tons of data, these scientists have finally finished the report and are releasing it to the public, the Congress, and the world. The data that they gathered shows an alarming rate of warming in the Arctic, where the ice cap is diminishing at increasing rates due to man’s burning of fossil fuels, and there is no question about that. What will happen in the decades ahead is still, of course, unknown…..but there is consensus that climate change has already begun, and that it will continue, and that the rate of change will increase.

At some point, the ice caps will melt to a level which will shut down the Atlantic Conveyor that distributes heat from the equatorial region to the poles. At some point in the future, the growing season in Kansas will likely be reduced to 5 to 10 weeks a year. This knowledge, rather conspicuously, coincides with the right wing’s blatant dismantling of the Bill of Rights and the Democracy of the United States.

They too, now know what the result of their gluttony for profits and their decades long neglect of the environment will bring, and they are calling in all bets. They didn’t know about the Atlantic Conveyor (and it’s sister in the Pacific) and that global warming would eventually cause an abrupt climate change. That is, quite frankly, very hard to understand without proof. But the proof has been shown in study after study, and is irrefutable – and the right wing knows it.

President Bush was selected to lead our nation in this time of “climate change awareness” very likely because of his coziness with the oil industry, and the energy industry is still unwilling to make major changes of their emissions or to curtail fossil fuel usage.

The current Administration has a despicable record on the environment – the worst ever. They have rolled back laws, and placed industry executives in oversight positions of the very industries they came from. Things have changed. We can now expect environmental concerns to be neglected even more than before, with the (supposed) mandate Bush received in the November election.

You may not need to worry yourself about this if you can tuck your family away in a mansion in the Caribbean or the Cayman Islands, like all of President Bush’s friends will be able to do when food supplies start dwindling. If not…..perhaps you should worry.

Scraping at the bottom of an empty Bureaucratic Barrel, Omaha celebrates one year anniversary of Superfund Bankruptcy

Omaha residential along with 8 other Superfund sites statewide (countless other sites nationwide) celebrated the one year anniversary of the bankruptcy of the Superfund trust fund Thurs. Sept.30. With the administrative abilities of the “Superfund polluters pay tax” choked out by congress since 1995, companies directly responsible for polluting areas around the country (like ASARCO here in Omaha) have not been paying into the fund. 33 Superfund sites nationwide have been denied funds and are not going to be able to clean up their respective areas this year.

The Superfund or Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was established by congress in 1980 to address the immediate problem of cleaning up toxic waste dump sites. It was drafted to define liability for said sites and make the entities responsible for the waste accountable by having them pay into a superfund, built from fines and taxes, that would then be used to clean up the areas.

The Omaha Lead Superfund site is one of the largest contamination sites in the country. It stretches from 40th st. on east to the Missouri river, and from L st. on north to Ames ave..

Emissions from a steel smelting plant operated by ASARCO (American Smelting and Refining Company a subsidiary of Americas Mining Corporation, Grupo Mexico) have been named as the root cause of much of the lead contamination by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The plant was located on 5th & Douglas, and operated from 1900 to 1997 when the plant was dismantled and turned over to the city of Omaha. In 1972, University of Nebraska Medical Center scientists concluded that ASARCO was releasing too much lead into Omaha’s air.

ASARCO was concieved in El Paso, Texas, fathered by Robert Safford Towne in 1881, a result of a visit he made to mines in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Two years later he organized the Mexican Ore Company and then buddied up with the Kansas City Consolidated Smelting and Refining Company (KSARCO) in 1887. By 1899, ASARCO grew extensively after merging KSARCO with several other corporations, giving birth to the big fat smog baby and eventually insuring the degradation of Omaha’s environment.

Clean up for the Omaha lead site has been estimated to cost at most $214 million. There are currently a few different proposed clean up plans for the area and all of them are going to cost more than $74 million. One plan is to spread phosphate over contaminated lawns in the hopes that it will “eat up” the lead, this plan is estimated to cost around $74 million and has never been done before. The more expensive plan is soil replacement, the soil would be removed 12 inches deep and replaced with fresh soil, with 36,000 homes effected this plan could cost around $214 million.

ASARCO still hasn’t publicly stepped forward and claimed full responsibility for the lead contamination citing lead paint as the culprit. But if you consider the fact that where ever ASARCO has bed down there has been lead contamination (including their hometown El Paso), and that ASARCO under a lot of pressure has moved most of it’s operations to Mexico in the last few years, it seriously questions the validity of their denial.

There has been a 300% increase in state taxes correlating to the clean up since 1995, in 1994 taxpayers were spending $1 million compared to the $5 million they are spending now. 2$ million has been given to the Omaha lead site from ASARCO this year, so when you do the math the public is basically fitting the bill for ASARCO’s externalities. The $2 million came from lawsuit money.

Most of the actual clean up has not happened yet and is not going to happen unless there is sufficient funds, community awareness/action, and political/corporate accountability. Congressman Lee Terry has had a plethora of opportunities to help out the Omaha community and has done nothing. Not to mention that the Bush Administration has refused to support the “polluter’s pay tax” on all levels and has made sweeping budget cuts in other EPA programs.

All hope is not completely lost, one person does care and that person is Camellia Watkins. She is a Sierra club staff member here in Omaha and a former resident of the Superfund site at 23rd & Lothrop deep in the heart of contamination. Yesterday she held a rally to raise awareness to the bankruptcy of the Superfund. The rally was right next to her childhood home. Although the rally was poorly attended, I got to do an interview with her and she turned out to be a veritable wealth of information on the Superfund site. (Included with this article I have an audio interview with Camellia Watkins.)

We talked about why there isn’t much community involvement within the Superfund site. Ultimately, most of the residents are lower income/ working families who rent and don’t have time to worry about anything outside of feeding their families and paying rent. Camellia Watkins talked candidly about how most of these residents would be more apt to get involved if they knew how much this lead contamination does effect them and the mental/physical health of their children. Exposure to lead has been directly linked to Brain damage, kidney damage, and gastrointestinal distress (short term). Chronic (long-term) exposure to lead in humans results in effects on the blood, central nervous system (CNS), blood pressure, kidneys, and Vitamin D metabolism. Children are particularly sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of lead. There is evidence that blood lead levels of 10 to 30 µg/dL, or lower, may affect the hearing threshold and growth in children. So the potential reason why some of these mother’s are spending so much on hospital bills and their children are suffering from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper-active Disorder) could be lead exposure.

Class plays a big part in why there hasn’t been much done for the residents of the contaminated area. If this were a problem in the West Omaha community it would quickly be rectified, because most of the residents there own their homes and have the kind of political clout it takes to enforce corporate accountability. Sadly, most neighborhood associations in the Superfund area have enough trouble trying to get people to come to weekly meetings, let alone address the Superfund issue, according to Camellia.

I believe education is the key that can unlock this Superfund door. Camellia discussed working with OPS (Omaha Public Schools), she explained that she wants to go to high schools and have an art/film contest with 5 minute short films about what they think the environment will look like in 5 years if we continue to disregard environmental laws. Hopefully, working with the students will not only further their education but will also further the awareness with in their families and social circles. The information is out there it is just a matter of getting it to the people that can use it the most.

Unfortunately we are at the mercy of the Bush Administration and the state of Nebraska for the time being, but with the right amount of education, and understanding maybe there will be more community involvement to challenge these politicians, corporations, and bureaucrats. You have to crawl before you can walk.

Uranium mining in NE

If you where in a plane flying over northwestern Nebraska, and your plane happened to be flying near the town of Crawford, you may notice that there was many small dots peppering the landscape. The dots are small boxes, black and white, each one with a number. Each box is covering the opening to a well, some as deep as a thousand feet. The wells are for mining uranium.

I have been living in Nebraska on and off for six years, and in those six years it has never been brought to my attention, until recently, that Nebraska is home to the second largest uranium mining project in the entire U.S. The mining company is named Crow Butte Resources. The method they use to extract the uranium, at first thought, does not seem to be as environmentally destructive as the dynamiting and removal of millions of tons of earth. But with the possibility of contaminating an aquifer spanning eight states, it could prove to be worse for the population dependent on that resource than the environment.

The mining practice used is called an In Situ Leach operation. What it entails is the digging of wells deep into the earth to reach the uranium deposits. After the uranium ore is reached, instead of removing the earth and rock in the way, the well is used to pump a solution into the well to dissolve, or leach, the uranium into a solution and then pump it out and extract the wanted minerals. To put up an enviro-friendly front, the company’s that use the ISL technique claim they can return the water back to its previous state for such things as agriculture. But ground water restoration for this process is a very troublesome task which is not yet completely effective. It is as of yet impossible to restore water to it’s original conditions, and still this is a requirement the company must fulfill. The leaching process is done right over the ogallala aquifer. which is the largest aquifer in north america extending through eight states, and the source for clean water for many in the mid-west. The Crowe Butte Resources company can produce as much as one ton of cake uranium a day.

The environmental impact this has on the region is not completely understood, and while researching this article i found what i consider minimal information. The information i did find does not convince me this is a safe way to extract uranium from the earth(never mind the fact i don’t agree with any of the uses for uranium anyway). The water that is pumped out of the well is put into large storage ponds the size of a football field, some larger. At the Crowe Butte ISL mine there have been several leaks in these ponds. Meaning the water can percolate into the ground and possibly reach the ogallala aquifer which it is built over. Here is a list of regulation violations that i have found, possibly not comprehensive.

License Violations at Crow Butte ISL uranium mine (Nebraska)

May 14, 2004: leak detected at Pond 1
December 23, 2003: Monitor well placed on excursion status
December 26, 2002: Monitor well placed on excursion status
September 10, 2002: Monitor well placed on excursion status
April 4, 2002: Monitor well placed on excursion status
December 4, 2001: Monitor well placed on excursion status
March 2, 2001 : Monitor well placed on excursion status
September 10, 2000 : Monitor well placed on excursion status
May 26, 2000 : Monitor well placed on excursion status
April 27, 2000 : Monitor well placed on excursion status
March 6, 2000 : Monitor well placed on excursion status
July 2, 1999 : Monitor well placed on excursion status
August 7, 1998 : Spill of 10,260 gallons of injection fluid
March 21, 1998 : Monitor well placed on excursion status
August 12, 1997 : Discovery of Pinhole Leaks in Upper Liner of Process Water Evaporation Pond
(details on post-Nov.1,1999, events available through ADAMS, Docket No. 04008943)

Source: Paydirt

*An excursion can be defined as any unwanted or unauthorized movement of recovery fluid out of the production zone as a result of in situ mining activities. (a spill of the industrial solution containing uranium)

A spill at an ISL mine in New Mexico will take as long as 40 years and 3 billion dollars to clean up presenting health risks to the surrounding community. In Crawford NE, there is little dissent from the community. As little as five people go to meetings to address the issues of the mine. The possibility of a 40 year clean up in NE because of mining efforts that could contaminate our water supply is enough of a reason to act against this corporation. And then there is the uses of uranium once it is extracted. We all know the dangers of nuclear energy. We all know the efforts of the US to be the worlds strongest nuclear power, and the conflicts between nations that result. It is common knowledge that depleted uranium has increased the cancer cases in Iraq since the first Gulf war. And with a radioactive life span of 4.5 billion years, depleted uranium related illnesses will be a gift from the US military that will last much longer than any “democracy” we may manage to force upon them. Does Nebraska’s residents really want to contribute to all these issues? I know i don’t.

ConAgra 101

On Aug.28 2004 one of our local corporate giants, ConAgra, recalled over 120,000 pounds of fresh chicken that may contain glass or metal as reported by the Lincoln Journal Star.

This is not the first large recall of a meat product by our neighbors ConAgra. In 2002 they recalled 18 million pounds of ground beef that was infected with E.coli, the second largest meat recall in American history. The vast majority of the meat was never accounted for. The meat produced at a plant in Colorado was linked to an outbreak of E. coli that caused 46 illnesses in 16 states, according to the USDA’s Office of Inspector General. The bacteria, which can be deadly for the elderly and very young, was found in at least 63 tests conducted by the plant in 2002. But federal meat inspectors did not intervene because they believed the FSIS had no authority to review tests conducted by the plant.

Even more shocking than the over site of the outbreak at such a late stage in the consumer cycle is what ConAgra did with the meat that was actually recovered. According to FDA regulations, once the meat has been recovered it can then be put back on the market into products such as canned chili, spaghetti sauce, or beef ravioli. And no product that contains the meat has to be labeled as containing an E.coli contaminated beef product. When asked how contaminated products could be put back on the market, ConAgra spokesperson Jim Herlihy said: “I think we can say any product that is cooked per the guidelines established by the USDA and recommended by the Colorado Department of Health is perfectly safe for human consumption and to indicate otherwise is irresponsible,” But here is what Patti Klocker, assistant director of the Colorado Department of Health had to say: “By definition of the federal recall, it’s not fit for human consumption, We recommend that humans don’t consume it and that it shouldn’t be turned into something edible.” The independent arm of the USDA prepared an investigative report at the request of California Rep. Henry Waxman and other Democrats. Last year the lawmakers criticized the USDA, saying that weeks before the July recall, federal meat inspectors knew the plant repeatedly tested positive for E.coli but did nothing.

And it’s not just meat. Genetically Modified corn that the FDA has not approved for human consumption has found it’s way into ConAgra silo’s. StarLink corn had federal approval for use as livestock feed and in non-food industrial products such as the production of ethanol. But regulators were not sure whether people should eat it because it contains a special protein, Cry9C, that is slow to break down in the digestive system and could theoretically cause allergic reactions. Like other GM corn, StarLink is implanted with a soil bacterium that kills a destructive bug called the corn borer. Unlike some other GM corn, it also contains implanted genes that allow it to stand up to popular weed-killing chemicals. StarLink first got public attention when it was found in Taco Bell brand taco shells sold by Phillip Morris co.’s Kraft food units.

The products that ConAgra produce is just the tip of a very large corporate iceberg. In April of 2001 George Williams filed a lawsuit against ConAgra for maintaining a hostile work environment. Williams had worked at ConAgra in El Dorado Arkansas for 32 years as a supervisor for ConAgra’s poultry operations. Williams lawyer’s said that ConAgra had employed a system of “don’t ask, don’t tell” concerning complaints made to management about hostile treatment of black employees. The jury awarded Williams nearly $930,000 in lost wages and benefits, plus $6.06 million in punitive damages.

CoAgra also engages in Union busting and employee surveillance locally in Omaha, NE. In 2000 & 2001 employees for ConAgra tried and successfully got UFCW representation (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union). But not without a fight. “Our religious traditions teach us that the dignity of all workers must be respected and recognizes workers’ right to organize on the job in order to have a voice,” said Father Damien, Pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe and a leader with Omaha Together/One Community (OTOC). The UFCW worked with Omaha Together/One Community to help 4,000 meatpacking workers in the Omaha area gain a voice on the job. ConAgra responded to workers organizing by trying to intimidate them over the load speaker at a south Omaha meat packing plant. “Corporate executives including General Manager Stan Wells made unprecedented continuous statements to workers over the loud speakers in the plant intimidating workers with last minute scare tactics” according to Voices United.

ConAgra’s environmental record ain’t so hot either. ConAgra agreed to spend more than $3.5 million,$1 million in a cash penalty and the rest for environmental improvements, to settle a complaint in federal court alleging that ConAgra’s Armour Fresh Meats slaughterhouse and meat packing plant in Nampa, Idaho, committed more than 600 violations of the Clean Water Act between 1992 and 1996. The EPA was concerned about ConAgra’s operations in Nampa because of the shallow ground water that lies beneath the slaughter house. Groundwater in the immediate area flows into creeks, through the soil and through “french drains” installed by ConAgra to control groundwater elevation. The industrial run off promotes algae growth in fisheries depleting the oxygen levels in waters causing fish die off’s.

ConAgra brand names include Armour, Banquet, Butterball, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Hunt’s, Orville Redenbacher’s, PAM, and Slim Jim. The world headquarters for ConAgra is located in downtown Omaha. It is our responsibility as Omaha citizens to make sure the corporations that call our community home are responsible ones. Call ConAgra today and tell them if they are going to call Omaha home they need to be accountable.

One ConAgra Drive
Omaha, NEBRASKA 68102-5001

402 595-4000
402 595-4702