1 November 2011
JONESBOROUGH, TN: CPT conducts ‘Occupy Aerojet’ action.
by Heather Mitchell
On 29 October, outside of the Aerojet Ordnance plant. CPT delegates and members of the local community, wearing “Decontaminate Jonesborough” shirts, set up tents in an effort to publicly imagine a new Aerojet. Participants split into groups and surveyed the perimeter of the company grounds, documenting notable buildings and materials. Each group then had a chance to re-imagine what the grounds and buildings could be used for once the plant is no longer producing depleted uranium. One group suggested that the venues could be come a museum depicting the past horrors inflicted by nuclear weapons, along with ways to work toward a more peaceful future. Another group suggested Aerojet could become a retreat center or a gathering place for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Some participants suggested planting climbing vines like Virginia Creeper that pull heavy metals from the environment as part of a cleanup process.
Following the exercise, people shared experiences related to depleted uranium or the Aerojet plant. CPTers talked about the increase in birth defects in Iraqi babies. A community member said that locals have reported seeing, “a green, fluorescent sphere coming out of the top of one of the stacks at the plant. The sphere was twelve to fifteen feet in diameter and went about ninety feet in the air before settling back behind the plant.” Aerojet claimed nothing was wrong, yet following the incident, the plant shut down for two days, during which time the only people entering the factory wore hazardous material suits. Subsequently, the stack that released the sphere was sealed.
Observers of the action were invited to sign up to have soil and water samples taken from their property for testing by Dr. Ketterer. A small group went out to each house, often hearing from the neighbors, “Hey! Can you take a sample over here, too?” Randall Gabriel, one of the CPT delegates, created a device that could go deep into wells to test sediment in drinking water.
While delegates were collecting the samples, they heard story after story told of different people in the area dying of cancer or having bad respiratory illnesses. One woman pointed down the street to five different homes, listing who in those homes had been diagnosed with what kind of cancer. The soil and water samples taken will help researchers determine if there is correlation between these diseases and the proximity of the homes to the Depleted Uranium plant.