Before groundbreaking, KC nuclear weapons plant attracts press

by Joshua J. McElwee

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Just days before an official groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for a major new nuclear weapons facility here, the plans for the site received significant local press coverage this weekend.

The coverage came days after Bishop Robert W. Finn of the Kansas City-Saint Joseph diocese released a statement asking officials to reconsider the construction of the new facility and two weeks after 14 activists were arrested at the construction site for a nonviolent peace action.

The new plant, which will make non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons, is set to be the nation’s first new major nuclear weapons production facility in 32 years.

Writing in a front-page story for the Sunday edition of The Kansas City Star, reporter Kevin Collison noted the fact that the new facility for the Kansas City Plant will be the nation's "only privately developed plant making parts for nuclear weapons."

Collison reported that this ownership scheme will put the plant on the local tax rolls, allowing it to generate an estimated $5.2 million annually in local property tax revenue once fully operational.

While Collison largely highlighted the financial benefits of the new plant, another writer for The Star lamented the lack of interest locals seem to be taking in its construction.

In the local section of Monday's edition of The Star, columnist Mary Sanchez wrote: "Knowledge about nuclear weapons production in our city should be so well-ingrained in the public consciousness that people ought to be able to discuss it anywhere. ... Instead, Kansas City for the most part has settled into benign ignorance that the plant even exists."

Sanchez also wrote in her column that the official groundbreaking ceremony being held for the facility tomorrow, Sept. 8, "ought not to be celebrated, but contemplated."

That ceremony is expected to include a range of local, state and federal officials, including U.S. Senator Kit Bond and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II. It is also expected to attract a number of anti-nuke activists who oppose the new facility, which will replace an existing plant that is currently part of the Bannister Federal Complex.

Related reporting from NCR:

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