This episode will feature interviews about health problems experienced by former employees at the Bannister Federal Complex and the current safety concerns facing the community in light of the planned demolition of the Kansas City Plant. For decades workers at Bannister were not warned about the danger to their health from exposure to toxins in the production there of parts for nuclear weapons. Although a 2001 law mandated compensation to workers whose health was damaged, according to a whistleblower at the Department of Labor, officials have deliberately thwarted claims. Hearings in both the US Senate and the House are investigating Department of Labor’s handling of claims. Maurice Copeland, who worked at the Kansas City Plant for 32 years, explains how many of the workers’ claims have been unjustly denied. Wayne Knox, radiation physicist with 50 years experience around nuclear production facilities,outlines the steps that should now be taken to protect the community before the imminent demolition of the Bannister Federal Complex. In addition to advocating for an independent evaluation of the toxins that will be released during the demolition, Mr. Knox has developed a set of precautions that need to be in place before the demolition in the event of an accidental emergency.
The Coalition Against Contamination will hold a town hall on
Saturday October 28 from 10 to noon at the
Southeast Community Center,
4201 East 63rd Street
Kansas City, MO.
A panel of health experts, lawyers, and scientists will discuss the life-threatening health impacts to former workers at Bannister and the potential impacts to the community when the plant is demolished.
This show included interviews with two men who can shed light on issues of concern about the Bannister Federal Complex, 1500 E. Bannister Road in Kansas City, Missouri. For nearly seventy years this plant produced parts for nuclear weapons. In 2013 operations were transferred to a new facility in south Kansas City.
The history of the Kansas City Plant raises questions about whether the government adequately protected workers’ health in the past. Today questions are also being raised about whether community health is being protected as plans proceed to demolish the plant.
We will speak with Wayne Knox, radiation physicist, and Maurice Copeland, Kansas City native and veteran employee at the Bannister Federal Complex. Mr. Copeland worked at the Kansas City Plant for 32 years as a tool and die maker and as a supervisor. He has firsthand knowledge of materials used at the plant and firsthand knowledge about the failure to protect or warn workers concerning the dangers from toxins at the plant. His eyewitness account of procedures at the Kansas City Plant are crucial to evaluating some assertions by officials.
Mr. Knox’s expertise as a radiation physicist can shed light on the health impacts to workers at the Bannister Federal Complex where nuclear weapons parts were produced in Kansas City for several decades. In addition, Wayne Knox brings his expertise to help us understand the necessary safeguards for the greater Kansas City community now before the planned demolition of the facility begins.
In 1967 Wayne Knox began his career in the US Air Force. Later he moved on to the Army Medical Corps as a Major in nuclear medicine science. He then worked as an operational health physicist for Westinghouse at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state where he developed policies and procedures for handling radioactive materials and later served as an internal radiation safety auditor. After the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, Knox was hired to work for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission where he developed industry rules and regulations for safety, emergency preparedness, post-accident sampling and core damage assessment – all policies necessary for crises such as the one in Fukushima Japan in 2011. All necessary safety and emergency preparedness steps that should be required before demolition of the Kansas City Plant begins.
The following issues were discussed:
- Wayne Knox has previously stated that he supports the production of nuclear weapons in the service of national security, and that he celebrated the many beneficial applications of nuclear research to both medicine and industry. He added that no one, governments or businesses, can offer absolute protection to workers and the public. At the same time he has questioned whether everything that could have been done was done to protect all of us around nuclear production sites. He has visited Kansas City in the past to interview workers whose health has been adversely affected from exposure to toxins at the Kansas City Plant. We plan to ask him to discuss the conclusions he has drawn about the safety precautions implemented on behalf of workers at the Bannister Federal Complex and any information he collected from workers about whether they were alerted to the dangers.
- What can Knox tell us about the secrecy surrounding the dangers inherent to the production of nuclear weapons?
- Knox previously suggested that the secrecy rules inherent in the production of nuclear material was often exploited by corporations to enhance their own interests, because those secrecy procedures prevented close public scrutiny. Might he have further comments on this?
- The Missouri governor has given his approval for the transfer of ownership of the Kansas City Plant to the private corporation Center Point.This clears the way for Center Point to begin the demolition of the plant. What questions do our guests suggest the public ask Center Point to answer before demolition begins?
- What do our guests say about the need for an independent monitor to evaluate air water and ground samples around the plant during the demolition and reconstruction process?