There were a number of Toxic Leaks this week, though the media coverage was lacking on all of them.
First, the literal toxic leak in Metropolis, IL, thanks to the union-busting crowd at Honeywell. A Google News search doesn’t turn up much actual reporting about the suspected hazardous gas that escaped from the Honeywell uranium conversion facility there. But it’s happened before with a similar lack of any news coverage.
In April of 2011, Democracy Now featured a story so similar you’d think this was a déjà vu moment. Journalist Mike Elk was the guest, discussing the lock-out of United Steelworkers plant workers over contractual issues in favor of less-skilled scabs, and the accidents that ensued.
…for the last 10 months, the workers have been locked out.
Now, during that time, the company brought in scabs, replacement workers, from a group called the Shaw Group. Now, the Shaw Group has a long history of covering up nuclear — you know, problems at nuclear facilities. They were fined $6.2 million by the federal government in 2009 for forcing its workers not to report safety problems at nuclear facilities in Alabama and Tennessee.
Since then, they’ve come in — there’s been many accidents. In August, there was an explosion at the plant, when hydrogen and fluoride gas combined. It blew off two of the scrubbers at the plant and forced the plant to shut down for several days. I talked with the state police at the time, and they said they had never heard such a loud explosion come from this plant, in decades.
In September, I found a report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that showed that Honeywell cheated on the test, the safety test, the qualification test for the scab workers that replaced the locked-out workers. One of these — you know, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission claimed that Honeywell corrected the problem; however, in September, one of the workers, who was not following procedure, damaged a safety valve on a container of UF6 gas. Now, UF6 gas is highly toxic. A couple puffs of it, and you’re dead. By not following procedure, he damaged a safety valve, and it released some traces of UF6 gas into the plant. Now, had that safety valve failed completely — there was 10,000 pounds of UF6 gas in that canister, and had that been released, it would have killed everybody within a six-mile radius of the facility in Metropolis, Illinois.
In case you didn’t get that, the stuff that allegedly leaked for six unchecked minutes on Sunday night is UF6 gas.
And then there’s this similarity about the lack of any media coverage:
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, can you talk about the lack of media attention to what has been taking place with Honeywell? I mean, even the explosion that you described is probably news to most people who are watching and listening.
MIKE ELK: Yeah, I’m quite frankly baffled by it. I’ve been writing about this story for about eight months now. I’ve probably filed a dozen stories on it. And outside of some great coverage by Lauren Lyster of RT TV and Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post, as well as a brief article in the AP, there hasn’t really been much coverage of it. And it just simply astounds me. But it’s typical of lockouts in the United States of America. The only reason you’re hearing about this lockout now on Democracy Now! at this uranium facility is because it is a uranium facility, it’s exciting. There’s been a lockout going on just as long at Roquette factory in Iowa, and almost nobody has heard about that. People don’t hear about lockouts, about strikes in this country. They’re not considered exciting.
And they’re not covered by many reporters, even many progressive reporters, because they’re seen as local struggles, not as national struggles. But the boss — when the boss sees that a union can be broken in a workplace that — you know, like Honeywell’s, where it only has 200 workers, this is a signal that goes down the line that the boss can break companies nationwide, can break unions nationwide. So, it’s a struggle, and it’s one that I think the workers at Honeywell were willing to go one day longer. So it’s absolutely horrendous they haven’t gotten more media coverage, because they’ve been absolutely heroic. They faced, you know, asset repossession, because a lot of them have been without money. Some of them have been threatened with foreclosure. And it’s gotten no media coverage.
The other Toxic Leak to which I refer today are the leaks from the Grand Jury in Ferguson, MO that’s charge with deciding whether or not to return an indictment against Darrell Wilson, the cop who shot unarmed teen Mike Brown two months ago.
Monday – October 27, 2014 3:00 PM ET USALast night we announced that we have received over the past several days a series of leaks from two separate and unrelated sources regarding the long-awaited Grand Jury decision regarding the murder of Mike Brown by Ferguson PD Officer Darren Wilson. In our opinion after careful analysis the sources are reliable, and the information we are about to reveal is true. Both sources are government employees with access to both internal government as well as confidential police communications. For reasons of safety we will not be revealing anything further on either our sources or the material leaked to us. The following is a synopses of the leaked information:On or about November 10, 2014 the Grand Jury decision will be announced. Darren Wilson will NOT be indicted on ANY charges related to the murder of Mike Brown. All local police Chiefs and jail commanders have been notified to begin preparing for major civil unrest. Governor Nixon has been notified of the impending announcement and has ordered the Missouri National Guard to begin preparations for a possible re-enstatement of the martial law that was declared at the beginning of the Ferguson protests.As additional evidence that neither the State nor Federal authorities intend any legal action against Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown, one of our sources has provided a very intriguing close up glimpse of Darren Wilson – his current whereabouts and lifestyle.Darren Wilson is still in the St. Louis area and recently attended a Blues game. He has been made aware of the impending Grand Jury and US DOJ decisions in his favor and is now comfortable enough that he has just closed purchase on a new home in the south county area. He is still co-habitating with his girl friend “Barbie”, who is now pregnant with their first child. I guess his paid vacation for murder has been productive in more ways than one.In an attempt to “protect” himself, Darren Wilson has altered his appearance. His hairline & hair color have been altered and he has grown a substantial beard. He is operating under the alias “Darren Obrien” or another false identity.Finally on an un-related note. “Josie” who called into a radio station during the early days of the Ferguson protests and purported to give Darren Wilson’s “side” of the story, from which many conservative media outlets (such as FOX News) have since spun the most outlandish falsehoods – has been identified as an account assistant at Javelin, Inc. and is associated with the Ferguson PD. We are still gathering info on this person and what exactly her relationship is with the FPD and her interest in Mike Brown’s murder.As more information is leaked to us we will update this document. Please follow us on Twitter @OpFerguson and visit our website at www.OperationFerguson.cf where this leak and other valuable information related to the Ferguson Movement is posted and regularly updated.