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Texans Have Message for Vermont

By M. D. Drysdale
The Herald (Randolph), August 20, 1998

   Among the anti-nuclear marchers along Route 12 this week were three who had come a long way to talk especially to Vermonters.

   Gary Oliver, Susan Curry, and Hal Flanders all journeyed the 2400-mile route that Vermont's low level nuclear waste is expected to take after it is approved for d disposal in Texas. The terms of the waste disposal compact are being debated now in Congress, and the Texas trio's message was clear: "Vermont, keep your waste at home."

   "It's probably the most important vote that Vermont can take on the nuclear issue," said Gary Oliver, a graphic artist from Marfa, Tex., whose t-shirt read, "Earth First."

   He was accompanied by Susan Curry of Alpine ("Grandmothers for Peace") and Hal Flanders, a naturalist who at a spry 83 was the oldest long-distance hiker. He said he had walked most of the route from Montpelier.

   The nuclear waste compact, they admitted, has few opponents in Congress. They were particularly disappointed that it is supported even by Vermont's Bernie Sanders, who can usually be counted on to oppose the nuclear industry.

   The nuclear waste from Vermont and Maine is scheduled to be buried deep in the ground in the poverty-stricken town of Sierra Blanca in West Texas. So is Texas's nuclear waste.

   To come to Vermont, the Texans said, they traversed the route that trucks carrying waste would travel. They think it would be unsafe for these trucks.

   "The interstate is in absolutely terrible shape, said Carry. "About a third of it is in construction." It's also clogged with high-speed trucks, she said.

   The Texans were delighted when they heard about the march.

   "This has been an inspiration to all of us in Texas," Oliver said.

   The delegation is convinced that the dump site was picked, not for its safety, but because the towns are poor, mainly Mexican, and have no political influence.

   For this reason, if the Compact is approved, the opponents will go to court charging "environmental racism" on the part of Vermont and other users of the nuclear dump, Oliver said.

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