My work through the year in peace and justice, feminism and nuclear issues led me inevitably to the Foundation for funding for my research into the health effects around nuclear facilities in Texas.
I have studied mortality statistics from the Texas Cancer Data center, incidence statistics from the Texas Cancer Registry and birth data from the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics to establish in a very preliminary sense, whether there are increases in certain kinds of radio-sensitive cancers, such as leukemia and thyroid, breast and brain, multiple myeloma and digestive system cancers, near the South Texas Nuclear Project and Pantex nuclear weapon plant. With guidance from national researchers and Texas medical school epidemiologists. I learned what questions to ask and how to use publicly available information and simple tools to determine whether these kinds of nuclear facilities are affecting our bodies and our babies.
The results of my first few months of research were presented at the February 1994, Breast Cancer and Nuclear Radiation Conference, which I helped in a minor way to organize as a member of the very talented planning group of Foundation staff, and shortly thereafter to state public health and environ mental staff and officials. The latter provoked an in-house analysis by the Texas Cancer Registry of health statistics in the Panhandle near the Pantex plant, which served to confirm my conclusion that there were serious problems (specifically, increases in thyroid, brain and prostate cancer) which at the least deserve a more exhaustive epidemiological study. The former generated an invitation to attend the Department of Energy’s conference on community advisory boards to health studies around Department of Energy facilities, and to speak at the national conference on nuclear power and nuclear waste: “Three Mile Island, Fifteen Years After.”
I have testified numerous times before the Austin City Council, at hearings regarding the future of Pantex, at meetings of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority, and at a shareholder’s meeting of the utility which owns one of the Texas nuclear power plants, regarding my findings.
As a representative to the Border Coalition against Radioactive Dumping from the Foundation and from another statewide anti nuclear group, I participated in planning and education related to the efforts of the state to locate a nuclear waste dump in West Texas, bringing long-lived hazardous materials in from Texas, and other states, nuclear power plants, university research reactors and to a miniscule degree medical institutions to crisscross Texas highways on their was to a low-income, predominantly Hispanic community that has not afforded a vote on the on the issue.
I am also engaged in political theater through the Radiation Rangers group, which friends and I founded this spring to issue citations to officials, milking decisions regarding nuclear facilities which endanger our bodies, our babies and our habitat. Also as a feminist artist I continue to create goddess jewelry which embodies the values of empowerment, connectedness, justice and peace, which the Foundation strives, to nurture and enhance in all its activities.