by Nadia Pflaum
According to a 1994 Department of Energy report, 10 "packages" of plutonium totaling 1.2 grams of the highly radioactive element are stored at the Kansas City Plant.
The report contradicts longtime assurances from the plant's owner, Honeywell, and government agencies including the National Nuclear Security Administration, the General Services Administration and EPA Region 7 that the Kansas City Plant manufactures only non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons.
The report, Plutonium Working Group Report on Environmental, Safety and Health Vulnerabilities Associated With the Department's Plutonium Storage, Volume 1, was obtained by the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Miller Nichols Library via inter-library loan.
The Bannister Federal Complex is under scrutiny due to reports of workers both in the nuke factory and in the neighboring GSA buildings, past and present, who became sick or died from exposure to beryllium and other toxic chemicals used in the plant's manufacturing.
Maurice Copeland, a retired Kansas City Plant worker who has led whistle-blowing efforts seeking compensation for sick workers, wants answers about the plutonium on-site. "Where was it? How many times did it move? Was it in my department?" Copeland asks. "I want to know that. This has to do with my health and my family's health. I should be able to know that."
The Pitch has directed questions to media spokespeople with the plant, its owners at Honeywell, the NNSA, the DOE and EPA Region 7. The plant's NNSA representatives issued this response this morning:
The Kansas City Plant does not process or store specialDavid Bryan, the public-affairs specialist for EPA Region 7, tells The Pitch: "Unless the plutonium becomes a waste product, there is no reason for it to be reported to EPA."
nuclear material. As is common in manufacturing industries, sealed radioactive
sources are utilized in analytical devices for quality control and calibration
of components. At the KCP, a very small amount of sealed plutonium (less than 2
grams) is used in these types of commercially available tools which are