|From:||Nick Morgan <email@example.com>|
|Date:||29 Nov 1995 18:18:51|
|Subject:||Toxic waste at super-secret Air Force test site|
Posting from "Nick Morgan" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Toxic waste at super-secret Air Force test site /* ---------- "UNITED STATES: Toxic waste at super" ---------- */ Copyright 1995 InterPress Service, all rights reserved. Worldwide distribution via the APC networks. *** 18-Nov-95 *** Title: UNITED STATES: Toxic waste at super-secret Air Force test site being kept secret by direct presidential order By Pratap Chatterjee WASHINGTON, Nov 18 (IPS) - An environmental study of alleged illegal burning of toxic waste at a super-secret air force base in Nevada has been sealed for a year by President Bill Clinton. The presidential order, a copy of which was obtained by IPS, represents the first time that a U.S. president has made an environmental study secret, according to environmental lawyers who have reviewed the document. The order -- Presidential Determination No. 95-45 -- is dated Sep 29. Ironically enough, on that very same day, Clinton publicly condemned his predecessors for not releasing documents on the effects of radiation testing on thousands of unsuspecting U.S. citizens over the last few decades. ''I hereby exempt the Air Force operating location near Groom Lake, Nevada, from any federal, state, interstate or local provision respecting control and abatement of solid waste or hazardous waste disposal that would require the disclosure of classified information ... to any unauthorised person,'' reads the order. Groom Lake Air Force Base, located some 240 kilometres from Las Vegas in Nevada, is used to test new military aircraft, such as the Stealth bomber. Until last year the government denied that the base even existed. Former workers at the base allege that the military has been illegally dumping and burning highly toxic waste used in the manufacture of these new systems. Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to do an inspection of the base after a long legal battle waged on behalf of the workers by Jonathon Turley, a Washington lawyer at George Washington University's Environmental Crimes Project here. The lawsuit names several toxic chemicals -- dioxins, furans, methylethyl ketone and trichloroethylene -- that were brought in regularly by truck from California by a company called NDB. Base workers nicknamed the company ''none of your damn business.'' The lawsuit was filed in the federal court in Las Vegas by five anonymous workers at the test site and Helen Frost -- the wife of a worker who allegedly died from exposure to the incineration of toxic waste. Frost says that her husband would come from work in the 1980s saying, ''my eyes are on fire, my face is on fire.'' She says he would feel cold even in the hot desert sun and that air force officials refused to allow him to use protective clothing or Towards the end of the 1980s, Frost lost weight and his stomach started to swell up. His skin developed weeping sores and began to crack and bleed. He was almost blind by the time he died in 1989, according to his widow. An analysis of Frost's body tissues by Peter Kahn, a professor at Rutgers University's department of biochemestry, showed potentially lethal levels of dioxins and dibenzo~urans, according to court documents. Turley suspects that the new EPA studies will back up Kahn's analysis, but government officials are now refusing to release the inspection results. As a result, the two sides were forced back to court. It ruled that the EPA had to release the document unless the president deemed that the release of the documents would jeopardise national security. The presidential order indicates that government officials have been successful in keeping the findings secret. The government is now trying to discover who, besides Frost's widow, is suing the base, according to lawyers familiar with the case. Last month, Turley identified one of the anonymous workers -- Walter Kasza -- two months after he died. But Turley says he would rather go to jail than reveal the identity of his other clients. The court has ordered Turley not to discuss the case with the media. In addition, all information in Turley's office has been classified secret, and only his own staff are allowed to enter the room. Government officials have not been available for comment about the EPA inspection or the presidential order because most federal government offices in this country have been shut down as a result of the budget crisis. Information about Groom Lake, which was first set up in the 1950s, is hard to come by. The base went ''deep black'' -- which means top secret -- in 1984 under the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Articles in aerospace magazines do name Groom Lake as the testing site for the U-2, A-12 and SR-71 spy planes in addition to the F117A Stealth. Rumours about what happens at the site, however, have never been in short supply. Visitors report a number of unexplained sightings of mysterious flying objects from Coyote Summit, which overlooks the base but is not controlled by the Air Force. John Pike, space policy expert for the Federation of American Scientists, say that a number of the mysterious objects are former Soviet weaponry that are being analysed by the Air Force. Mark Farmer, an investigator who writes for Covert Action Quarterly magazine, says that the Air Force is definitely testing a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles, although he is not certain that they are being tested at Groom Lake. More speculative is the talk of the ''Black Manta'' -- a slower version of the Stealth -- and the ''Pumpkin Seed'' -- a diamond- shaped attack plane that carries up to 100 miniature nuclear warheads and flies at ten times the speed of sound. (ENDS/IPS/PC/JL/95) Origin: Rome/UNITED STATES/ ---- [c] 1995, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS) All rights reserved May not be reproduced, reprinted or posted to any system or service outside of the APC networks, without specific permission from IPS. This limitation includes distribution via Usenet News, bulletin board systems, mailing lists, print media and broadcast. For information about cross- posting, send a message to <email@example.com>. For information about print or broadcast reproduction please contact the IPS coordinator at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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