As plans for KC nuke plant advance, feds admit toxic contamination

by Joshua J. McElwee

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Five days before a planned rally and conference in opposition to a major nuclear weapons manufacturing center in Kansas City, Mo., organizers have received help for their cause from an unexpected source: the federal government.

Speaking to the local NBC news affiliate June 11, the regional administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), Jason Klumb, admitted that the Bannister Federal Complex has in the past been responsible for the leak of a dangerous toxin called beryllium.

“We got it wrong, and we're going to get it right,” said Klumb. “We're going to find it and we're going to bring in an outside expert and pay them on a contract basis to go through everything to tell us exactly what we've got.”

The Bannister Federal Complex is located about 13 miles south of downtown Kansas City, Mo. and currently houses what is known as the Kansas City Plant, a major nuclear weapons manufacturing center responsible for the production and assembly of approximately 85 percent of the non-nuclear components of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Until the admission June 11, GSA officials had constantly denied any presence of toxic materials at the parts of the plant managed by them. As the NBC affiliate reports, back in November Michael Brincks, then acting GSA regional administrator, denied beryllium had ever been found.

“None of those tests have shown any traces of Beryllium on the GSA side of the complex,” Brincks told the affilate at the time.

The admission of toxins present at the complex came just days before the GSA finalized a deal to move the nuclear production plant to a larger facility further south of the downtown area over the weekend, according to The Kansas City Star. Local organizers have been working over the past months to try and stop the movement of the plant because of opposition to U.S. nuclear policy and health concerns for the employees who work there.

The organizers hope to use the admission of toxic contamination to galvanize support for a three day rally and conference in Kansas City, Mo. June 16-18 named a 'Juneteenth Celebration.' Amid workshops and panels on nuclear abolition and nonviolent resistance, the conference is to include a keynote presentation by Dr. Helen Caldicott, an Australian activist who cofounded the group Physicians for Social Responsibility.

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