TOXIC TOUR OF TEXAS
1988-1992
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FORREST & MARY JO BALSER
Karnes County

      WE WERE AWARE they at the Conoco Conquista uranium mill tailings site were doing a little extra dumping after they had closed down the uranium milling operation. And when they tried to transfer the license to people who had worked there before...well, we thought, “If you are not going to use it yourself, you should shut it down.”
      We read about the proposed license transferral in the Texas Register, and we only had a short time before going to the hearing. What we managed to do was get a continuance on the hearing to have more time to know the factors involved. We wondered how a license to dump could be transferred when it was expired. Yes, they were operating on a timely renewal status, but we think finally Conoco got so much bad publicity over this, that they decided not to attempt to go through with it. They would have had to go through the whole process of relicensing.
      We did obtain help from the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General’s office on this. And we held fund raising barbeques and
dances to defray the costs of challenging the license transferral. Though, quite a lot did come from our own pockets, with the total cost coming to about $75,000. There are only so many donuts you can sell...The whole problem really was trying to get the county judge and the commissioners behind us, which they never did.
      In these kinds of situations, we have hope for the younger people who can carry on. We’ll do what we can, but we won’t be here forever. We do have a love for the land. Growing up in a rural area is what we’ve known all our lives. God made it beautiful, and we don’t like it when it’s polluted and ruined for personal gain and greed. We don’t know how long this can go on-this selfishness-until there’s nothing left to take. It gets down to, in our minds, what is right and what is wrong, and when we sense something is wrong, we are determined to do something about it.