25 October 2011
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.
Local DU activists organized a clergy breakfast early Saturday morning for Dr. Ketterer to present the results of his research. Following this presentation, CPT delegates met with a former Aerojet employee and expert in working with DU. He told of working in the plant prior to the 1981 strike for workers' health, and the dangerous conditions workers were exposed to, including DU waste dumped into open pits in the factory yard, and radioactive materials transported to a local resident's property.
On Sunday, 23 October, Dr. Ketterer presented the findings from his report at a press conference on Jonesborough’s courthouse steps. Ketterer, delegate Cliff Kindy, and local DU activist Linda Modica then answered questions from local media and others in attendance. One couple that lives between Aerojet and Nuclear Fuel Service (a producer of nuclear fuel for navy ships) attended the press conference, voicing strong concerns about the impact of these plants on community health. They have experienced a number of health-related hardships and have lost a child to a stomach tumor.
The delegation will participate in a public forum at Eastern Tennessee State University to discuss these questions and issues further on Tuesday 25 October 2011.