Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Community members from Kleberg and Goliad County, including the Goliad County Commissioner, travelled several hours to the meeting from South Texas to bear witness to the devastating impacts of uraniumm mining on their drinking water, health, and economic livelihood.
After agreeing to give residents 3 minutes each to voice their opinions on the project, CPS shut the community out of the meeting, saying there were no chairs left. Only after 30 minutes of chanting and banging on the door, being pushed by security and intimidated by the SA Police Department, were ratepayers of this publicly-owned utility allowed to attend the public meeting.
Reactors 3 & 4 at the South Texas Project will be paid for through rate increases to San Antonio residents and are expected to cost over $6.6 billion (according to CPS) and up to $16.2 billion (estimate based on Wall Street investor's journal Moody's Corporate Finance). A CPS-commissioned study concluded that CPS could save more energy through conservation than it will gain from the proposed nuclear reactors.
See video of the meeting
Read the Express-News Article
Hear Lara, on Houston Indymedia
Monday, October 29, 2007
Residents to blast CPS at board meeting
Concerned rate payers urge board not to approve new nukes
Monday, October 29th
City Public Service (CPS) Energy Main Office
145 Navarro (@ Villita)
Press Conference – 2pm
Board Meeting – 2:30pm
San Antonio ratepayers, former Councilwoman Patti Radle, members of the Southwest Workers Union (SWU), Fuerza Unida, the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, and other worker and environmental organizations will be making their voices heard today in opposition to CPS’s plans to build two new nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project (STP). The groups raise concerns that CPS will decide on the investment at its board meeting today without allowing for any meaningful public participation in the decision.
“Building the first new nuclear reactors in the country in 29 years is too important a decision for CPS to make in the dark,” says SWU director Genaro Rendon. “This plant will be built on the backs of rate payers, who face huge rate hikes to pay for it. What good is a public utility if the public isn’t allowed a voice in that kind of decision?”
October’s issue of the investor’s newsletter Moody’s Corporate Finance estimates costs for new nuclear reactors at $5-6,000/kw, putting CPS’s project at $13.5-16.2 billion. STP reactors 1 and 2 over-ran their projected construction costs by 600% and took three times as long to complete as estimated.
CPS’s partner in the project, NRG Energy, filed for bankruptcy in May 2003. NRG just bought into STP, its only nuclear holding, in 2006, and has never built a nuclear reactor.
“I want my energy bill going towards conservation and renewable energy sources that will provide for my grandkids in the future,” says Helen Winslow, a custodian at
“By retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency and funding local energy projects we can eliminate the need for a new plant, create local jobs, and lower family’s energy bills all at the same time,” says Jaime Martinez, President of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement-AFL-CIO, which represents 1.5 million Latino trade unionists nationally.
# # #
Thursday, October 25, 2007
HONDO — Weeks after a local man was seriously injured in a grain silo collapse, residents here told city and state officials that the facility has long raised safety and environmental concerns and shouldn't be open.
"Since this is a low-income community, it's a classic example of environmental racism," said Chavel Lopez of the Hondo Empowerment Committee during a town hall meeting Monday. "If this was in the affluent area, something would have already been done."
The complex of about 10 silos off Avenue O, near a residential area, had been idle for about a year before businessman David Jones bought it last summer. Its renewed use has sent several residents to City Hall complaining about noise, dust and rats and asking the city to buy the property and move the business.
"It's hard for the city to go in and regulate the business," City Manager Robert Herrera told the residents. "The city is having discussions with Jones, and we are listening to what you are saying."
The silo employee, John Anthony Garcia, survived being buried under the grain and is in good condition at University Hospital.
Attorney Tom Rothe, speaking for Jones at the meeting, said that while the business owner is concerned about the wellbeing of residents, he has made significant investments in the facility and moving the business away "would not be economically feasible."
According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the facility met minimum requirements of being at least a quarter mile from houses when it first was inspected by the agency in 1985. Even though the city has grown around the complex, Jones is allowed to run his business as long as residents don't complain to the agency. Formal complaints haven't been sent since 2003.
TCEQ officials urged the residents Monday to send written reports to the agency, which then would investigate the site again.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The campaign in Austin has been strong since the Spring. we have been meeting with workers, speaking at school board meetings, filing greviances and holding membership meetings. SWU won visitation rights to workers and High school custodians successfully fought for a pay raise. Currently, SWU is working to get the school district to provide free uniforms for cafeteria workers, challenge the staffing shortages, and fight for a living wage. At the last membership meeting, SWU shared its history, elected officers and started to draft a 'Plan for Change and Improvement.' SWU and its members will continue recruiting, speaking at school board meetings and demanding justice for all school workers.
- Nov. 8th, the Taskforce for the formula for allotment of custodians will meet. The current formula is decades old and has created a custodial staffing crisis. After filing a greviance, the taskforce formed to create a new formula that also looks at the population of a building, the different types of surfaces and the outside area.
- SWU is trying to set up a meeting with school board member to discuss concerns and the Plan for Change and Improvement
- SWU will set up a meeting with the Food Services Director, Ms. Carillo Espano to discuss cost for providing shoes and hair nets to all cafeteria workers
- Working for night differential for employees.
- SWU is researching wages, overtime, staffing and benefits to compile a new report on the status of school workers in the state capitol
click image to see September 2007 AISD Union Voice
call Chavel @ 512-779-8619 for more information.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Two recent editorials published in the SA Express News October 10th and September 5th urge CPS Energy to pursue its plans to invest in two new nuclear reactors. However, they ignore serious economic as well as environmental concerns that call into question whether more nuclear power generation is the best choice for San Antonio.
Research published by MIT and the US Energy Information Administration concluded that nuclear energy will cost more per kilowatt hour than energy generated from coal, natural gas or wind.
The San Antonio Express News reported that energy bills will go up $4-5/ month just to pay for CPS’s $206 million in initial design work. While total construction costs for the reactors are estimated at $6 billion, according to the Department of Energy the average final cost of new reactor construction is over three times the original estimate. At the same time, prices for uranium have skyrocketed from $8 to $138/lb between 2002 and June of this year.
Nuclear also carries with it a huge unknown: what to do with the tons of radioactive waste. No one knows the future cost of disposing of it properly because viable sites or methods have still not been identified by the industry or regulators. Texas’ current agreement sending low level radioactive waste to South Carolina expires in 2008. In the meantime, high level radioactive waste, which stays deadly for 100,000s of years, will be stored at the reactor site, a huge health and safety risk.
San Antonio is being presented with a false choice: nuclear or energy starvation. According to the State Energy Conservation Office Texas could harness 250,000MW of energy per year from wind alone, four times what’s generated from all sources right now. Instead of taking us backwards, CPS should be striving to lead the nation in developing sustainable renewable energy like wind and solar power.
published 10/24/2007 in San Antonio Express-News
(click image to see full size)
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Across Texas, border cities unite in protest of proposed US-Mexico Wall (espanol abajo)
El Paso/Cd Juarez
US: 9th Ave & Oregon
Mx: Don B. Juarez Monument(11am)
March to Stanton (Lerdo) bridge
Ruben Solis 210.378.5699
Saturday Oct 13th
Del Rio, TX/Acuña
march from US & Mexico
Che Lopez 210.378.5132
Memorial Garden Park, Int’l Gateway Bridge
Int’l Blvd & Elizabeth St.
Chavel Lopez 210.378.5548
Community leaders, residents and local organizations will join together to launch the ‘No Wall’ campaign along the Texas-Mexico border this weekend to send a message to the US government and the Department of Homeland Security that constructing wall is not a solution, but will rather worsen the situation for this already impoverished, under resourced region. Joining concerns of Mayors, Chambers of Commerce and religious leaders, Ruben Solis, native of Grulla, TX, explains, “the wall will only hamper a thriving cross-border economy, cut farmers and ranchers off from their land, further divide families and slice through wildlife refuges in one of the world's most ecologically diverse places.”
Over 80 local, national and international organizations have joined the No Wall campaign representing labor, environmental, faith and women groups. With a deadline of October 15 to submit comments to the government, actions will collect testimonies about the potential impacts of the wall.
Miles se unen a la demanda por fronteras mas Humanas
En todo Texas y estados fronterizos Mexicanos se unen para protestar la propuesta del MURO en las fronteras EEUU-México
Uniéndose a la procuración de los alcaldes y presidentes municipales, cámaras de comercio, y de lideres religiosos,
“El MURO fue una decisión hecha en Washington DC, sin la consulta de las comunidades locales, familias, y autoridades de las ciudades impactadas y va ser un desastre devastador” comento
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Fewer than a dozen protesters gathered outside Bill Miller Bar-B-Q headquarters on a recent Thursday, where they waved signs and chanted, "Equal pay for equal work," before trying but failing to deliver a petition to senior management.
The protesters, some organizers with the Southwest Workers Union Youth Leadership Organization, say employees on the North Side are paid higher wages than workers on the South, East and West sides. The petition stated that it "indicates discriminatory treatment towards workers in low-income or minority communities."
Locations on the North Side pay up to $9 an hour to start, while workers in other areas are paid $6.50.
"I don't think it is fair to do the exact same job and get paid more," said a South Side Bill Miller employee who asked to remain anonymous. "I started off at $6 an hour, and now after two years I make $8. I've needed to get raises to get here, while people at other locations are making more when they start."
Previous San Antonio Express-News reports have said it is normal for restaurants to have wages "vary in different areas based on supply and demand."
Since June, the workers organization has been calling for "fair and just wage practices" at all locations. And to get the message out, it has organized several protests and called and mailed letters to the company.
At its Sept. 27 protest, the group unsuccessfully tried to deliver a petition signed by 1,157 patrons. But the receptionist, Christina, who declined to give her last name because she said it was against company policy, refused to accept it. She said she had been instructed not to comment on the issue and told the group to mail in the petition.
"I can't accept this, and there is nobody else here to accept it because they are all out to lunch," she told volunteers. "There is not a time to recommend for you to return."
She did say that management refused to comment or meet with organizers.
"We've received letters and phone calls from you and the public," she said. "If management wants to respond they will. But since they haven't, their answer is no response."
The petition was mailed. The organization has not received a reply.
"They don't want to take responsibility, they are hiding," said Monica Garcia, a youth coordinator for the Southwest Workers Union. "I don't understand why, they just choose not to respond."
Her colleague, Genaro Rendon, an organizer for the group, agrees.
"I think it is very unprofessional they don't want to respond," he said. "They owe it to the community to acknowledge the problem."
Several phone calls to senior management were not returned.
Despite a long list of signatures, the organizers could not get any patrons who signed to attend the protest, but some did offer moral support.
"I think the pay should be the same," said customer Mary De Leon, who signed the petition. "They should keep it high or low, but it should be the same so the workers don't complain."
Organizers said many patrons are helping in other ways by writing letters and boycotting the restaurant. The organization is planning a youth march with students from Edison High School on Oct. 30.
"We need more community organization to bring justice to this issue," Garcia said. "And we won't stop until it is resolved."
Link: fotos and report by youth organizer Sandra Garcia
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
3 October 2007
Open Letter to Members of City Council, the Mayor & CPS Board of Trustees
Opposition to CPS Investment in Nuclear Reactors
Southwest Workers Union and its 2500 families that it represents express a grave concern over the proposal to invest in the construction of two new nuclear reactors in
- Nuclear Reactors are an unsound investment.
The lifetime cost of new generating capacity in the
This represents a huge unknown cost for any investment in nuclear and a huge risk for CPS and
Waste from a nuclear reactor core is millions of times more radioactive than the original fuel and is deadly. Low and high level radioactive waste take 100,000’s of years to decay and must be isolated during that time. Due to health and safety concerns
Mining for uranium fuel has long-lasting impacts on groundwater quality. Residents in
Building new nuclear power plants will divert private and public investment from the cheaper,readily available options that protect our climate. While nuclear reactors themselves do not release carbon dioxide, uranium mining, transport, and refinement all rely on the burning of fossil fuels that creates climate change. The uranium enrichment process is also the primary source of CFC-114, a potent greenhouse gas and the process is powered by coal. By the time nuclear power reaches a home, its comparable to natural gas and much more than wind or solar.(9) It has been estimated that within ten to twenty years, nuclear reactors will produce no net energy because of the massive amounts of fossil fuel that will be necessary to mine and enrich the remaining poor grades of uranium.(10) Also, the impacts of climate change are upon us and reactors in the U.S. have been forced to close during heat waves, which are expected to be on the rise in Texas.(11)
Living near a nuclear reactor is linked with increased risk of breast cancer (by 10 times), infant mortality, leukemia and childhood cancers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, long-term, low-level (chronic) exposure to radiation can cause cancer, teratogenic mutations in fetuses causing retardation and deformities and genetic mutations that are passed on to offspring.(12) As we’ve learned from Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, an accident at a nuclear reactor would cause thousands of immediate deaths, tens of thousands of death later from radiation, hundreds of thousands of square miles of contaminated land and would require the evacuation of millions of people.
In order to protect the future of
- the CPS Board of Trustees vote not to invest in the South Texas Project
- the City Council adopt a “nuclear-free” policy for
that includes a prohibition on new investments in nuclear energy by CPS San Antonio
- CPS adopt a moratorium on new fossil fuel and nuclear investments
- CPS establish a plan to invest in renewable energy and energy conservation efforts that will curb climate change and provide San Antonio with clean energy for generations to come
- the City Council adopt a Climate Change Resolution that sets benchmarks for reducing San Antonio’s contribution to climate change by creating a carbon neutral City vehicle fleet; requiring CPS to invest in energy conservation and renewables; enhancing public transportation services and usage; and requiring new development and buildings meet strict energy efficiency standards.
’s Resolution 20070215-023 can be used as a guide. Austin
- The City Council establish a citizens advisory council to advise CPS specifically on issues of renewable energy and climate change
As the largest
(1) Energy Information Administration, "International Energy Outlook", 2006, p. 66. http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/pdf/0484(2006).pdf
(2) Study prepared by the Energy Information Administration of the
(3) “Understanding the Outcomes of Megaprojects: A Quantitative Analysis of Very Large Civilian Projects,” Edward W. Merrow, RAND Corporation, March 1988.
(4) “Uranium Price Data,” Trade Tech. Accessed September 2007, http://www.uranium.info/
(5) “Credit Aspects of North American and European Nuclear Power,” Standard & Poor’s, January 9, 2006.
(6) James Cook on the cover of Forbes Magazine, 1985.
(7) U.S. General Accounting Office, “Low-Level Radioactive Waste” June 2004. http://hps.org/govtrelations/documents/gao_llrw_disposalcapacity.pdf
(8) Nuclear Energy Information Service prepared for the Illinois Commerce Commission, David Kraft, 1998.
(9) “Comparison of Greenhouse-Gas Emissions and Abatement Cost of Nuclear and Alternative Energy Options from a Life-Cycle Perspective,” Uwe Fritsche, Oko Institut, January 2006. http://www.nirs.org/climate/background/0601fritschenukes&climate.pdf
(10) “Nuclear Power is not the Answer,” Dr. Helen Caldicott, New Press, 2006.
(11) “Nuclear Power’s Green Promise Dulled by Rising Temps,” Susan Sachs, The Christian Science Monitor, August 10, 2006, available at http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0810/p04s01-woeu.html