Leukemia Lurking
In Your Hamburger
By John DiNardo

Would you care to know all that you've been eating over the years? I mean, what kind of energy are they putting in our food? Could it be nuclear energy? In August of 1997, the Seattle Times exposed the secret poisoning of the American People in a series entitled, "Fear in the Fields." And in that same year, we learned that frogs are being discovered in our land -- deformed frogs, with one eye, five legs, and other grotesque abnormalities. Well, the following story unveils the origin, in time and place, of these corporate-perpetrated biological crimes against nature, in linkage with yet another corporate-perpetrated "crime against humanity" -- that humanity which inhabits these United States.
The next evening when you eat a beef dinner, go to your bedroom, turn off the lights, and look at your bare stomach. If it glows, you can thank Kerr-McGee Corporation (the murderers of Karen Silkwood) for brightening your life.
The following story has been, in essence, a ten-year-old secret, ever since it was first revealed by IN THESE TIMES [(773)772-0100] in its newspaper-magazine issue of August 19 - September 1, 1987:
With the Nuclear Regulatory Commisssion's blessing, Kerr-McGee Corporation began examining the fertilizing potential of its industrial sewage in 1973. In 1979, Kerr-McGee's Director of Regulation and Control, W.J. Shelly, wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency's (the EPA's) regional office in Dallas:
"The raffinate .... has been treated to reduce its radioactivity, and is applied to the soil as part of a waste disposal program licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commisssion."
Since then, the radioactive, heavy-metal-laden raffinate has been renamed "ammonium nitrate fertilizer", and there is no talk of "waste disposal programs" from farmer Kerr-McGee.
On March 31, 1982, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's "Uranium Process Licensing Section" recommended that Kerr-McGee Corporation be given:
"on a permanent basis ... permission to spray ... treated raffinate as fertilizer"
on company land. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that these raffinate applications would pose neither an:
"UNDUE risk to public health" nor "have SIGNIFICANT environmental impacts."
"IT'S ALL A FICTION": The NRC based this conclusion on Kerr-McGee-supplied tests indicating that the raffinate fertilizer, a concentration of uranium, thorium, and radium, is within Federal limits.
"It's all a fiction!"
says Dr. Rosalie Bertell, the Canadian epidemiologist who has made a career out of studying populations living around nuclear facilities (see IN THESE TIMES, Dec. 24, 1986).
"Every exposure to the population has a harmful effect."
Bertell is currently working with Deer-in-Water on an epidemiologic study of cancers, miscarriages, and new allergies that have occurred around the Kerr-McGee plant. Until Bertell examines the data, she will not speculate as to whether the two hundred plus cancers that the survey has documented are related to Kerr-McGee's operations. But she comments that it "certainly looks extraordinary at first glance." Bertell has already examined the nine-legged-frog.
"It is conceivable that the raffinate could cause that," she says.
Kerr-McGee's Manager of Media Relations Annita Bridges hoots when asked about the nine-legged frog:
"Well, I've heard that story before. The number of legs keeps increasing every time I hear it. I don't think anybody has ever seen that frog." [JD: The front-page of IN THESE TIMES displays a full-page photograph of a frog with five extra legs growing out of the upper frontside of its body.] "If that frog exists, I am certain that there is no medical evidence that would link the uniqueness to the operations at Sequoyah Fuels Corporation."
When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved Kerr-McGee's fertilizer program, it also discussed the environmental impact of the seventeen toxic, heavy metals found in the fertilizer. It said that Kerr-McGee's tests show that "in some cases" the metals are found in concentrations that exceed the National Academy of Science's recommended limits for irrigation water. The only one of those unspecified elements that the NRC mentions, and seems repeatedly concerned about, is molybdenum. According to Kerr-McGee-supplied figures, the raffinate it sprayed in 1982 contained one hundred-and-seventy-eight thousand percent more molybdenum than the maximum allowable concentration for irrigation water.
But Kerr-McGee's Bridges claims that the raffinate fertilizer is harmless because
"the heavy metals and the radionuclides have been removed .... It is really not a waste product; it is a by-product."
She says that the "only difference" between commercial fertilizer and Kerr-McGee's "ammonium nitrate fertilizer" is that the latter is produced by a
"facility that is licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission."
Kerr-McGee is also the only "farmer" who spreads fertilizer with leased tank trucks whose doors read:
"Chemical Waste Disposal Division."
In giving its go-ahead to the fertilizer program, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission set limits on how much raffinate could be applied to the soil. But observers living near the Kerr-McGee's raffinate-sprayed fields suspect that the company spreads more fertilizer than is allowed.

Kerr-McGee Corporations's second dumping permit is issued by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. The board's guidelines originally did not require that it regulate radioactive waste, but that had changed by 1982 when the company's state dumping permit expired.
For the past five years, Kerr-McGee has discharged its radioactive water into the Illinois River through a legal loophole. Oklahoma law states that if the Water Resources Board fails to renew a permit before it expires, the company involved is allowed to dump at the old levels until the board acts. So in 1982 when the Water Resources Board did not renew Kerr-McGee's permit, the company could legally discharge its radioactive water as usual.
Robert F. Kerr was named to the Water Resources Board that same year. Kerr-McGee says that Kerr doesn't take part in board decisions involving the company, yet Oklahoma law allows a board member to vote on permits affecting his business concerns if that individual believes that he can give the matter "a fair and impartial hearing." In the case of Sequoyah Fuels, Kerr's actions have yet to be tested since over the past five years no permit has been voted on.
"What it says to me is that Kerr-McGee and the Water Resources Board appear to be acting in concert,"
says Kathy Carter-White, the attorney for NACE. Evidence of this conclusion is a Jan. 24, 1984 Water Resources Board internal memorandum addressed to the board's chief of water quality that acknowledges dumping violations. The note says:
"An enforcement action is in progress. If we draft up a permit before the enforcement request is satisfied, we would put the permittee under more instant violations."
Late last year, the board finally moved to control Kerr-McGee's discharge of radioactive waste into the river and set a December 9th date for a public hearing on the company's disposal methods. But before they could take place, Kerr-McGee obtained an injunction to stop the hearings. The company argued that the NRC, not the Water Resources Board, was the government body responsible for regulating uranium dumping.
Early in July, a district court judge ruled that the Water Resources Board did have jurisdiction over Kerr-McGee's dumping. The company then appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which on July 21st, upheld the lower court ruling, saying that the company would have to get a permit from the Water Resources Board both to dump plant waste into the Illinois River and to dump its raffinate fertilizer on the ground.
On August 31st, the Wate Resources Board will hold a public hearing on Kerr-McGee's proposal practices. NACE, Carlisle Area Residents Association and Warner Area Residents are busy preparing for the hearings. NACE's attorney Carter-White will present the board with thirty-one arguments against approving a dumping permit. Greenpeace's Costner will ask for a peer review of all Kerr-McGee test data. The Warner Area Residents have a veterinarian who will testify about heavy-metal poisoning causing kidney failure in pets that wandered onto raffinate-sprayed property. He will also document the sudden appearance of mutations in a local herd of pure-bred cattle.
Carter-White believes that the permit proposed by the Water Resources Board will:
"be an improvement." She says: "The discharges will be considerably less than would have occurred if citizens hadn't intervened. Yet it is still not adequate. The board will continue to allow Sequoyah Fuels to dump toxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic and radioactive wastes into the Illinois River. The proposed permit allows Kerr-McGee Corp. to dump up to FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-TWO THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE pounds of uranium into the Illinois River per year, as long as the discharge, when tested in the laboratory, does not kill an excessive number of flathead minnows."

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