AMELIA ISLAND REPORT:
DOE/CONTRACTOR MANAGER LAWBREAKING DAYS:
A Report to Coalition for a Healthy Environment (CHE), Utah Downwinders and PRESS on the 12th Annual Decisionmakers Forum, Amelia Island, Florida, October 2-5, 2000
By Ed Slavin
The United States Department of Energy (DOE) just held another lavish private conference, at the swanky Amelia Island Plantation Resort at Amelia Island, Florida. This is an eyewitness account. DOE and contractor managers spend millions of dollars of your money on lavish "professional" conferences from which the rest of us are excluded by "high prices, high fences and hibiscus," as David Brinkley once said of the 1972 Republican Convention in Miami Beach.
A prevailing Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant whistleblower worker and a public interest lawyer attended this time: we sat in the second row, taking notes as the delegates for the Coalition for a Healthy Environment (CHE), Utah Downwinders and the Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security (PRESS).
As the PRESS and CHE/Downwinder delegate, respectively, Mike Tulloh and I attended the 12th Annual Decisionmakers' Forum of the nuclear weapons industry, co-sponsored by industry titans and the Nuclear Weapons Monitor, and Exchange-Monitor Publications. Mike was prevailing plaintiff in a 1993 jury verdict against Goodyear Atomic and Martin Marietta involving his intentional exposure to toxic substances at Portsmouth GDP.
By September 28, 2000 letter, I put the Department of Energy, its managers and Mr. Helminski on notice of FACA violations, on behalf of CHE and Utah Downwinders, and CHE President and Treasurer Harry Williams and Sherrie Farver. (Vina Colley, PRESS and Mike Tulloh have since authorized me to add their names to the list).
For four days each year, behind security gates and guards, under Spanish moss in luxurious Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Florida, the world's nuclear weapons cleanup enterprises holds their annual Decisionmaker's Forum. This is the Iron Triangle at play, the Revolving Door on display, behind closed doors. The entire conference is held in a 1300 acre gated community where the order of the day is "spin city" cliches, backpatting, and an endless game of "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours." This is where the Joe Ben LaGrones of the DOE nuclear weapons world go when they're ready to retire, with contractors ready to hire them for their contacts and expertise. La Grone, DOE Oak Ridge Operations Manager 1983-1995, retired to take a top job with troubled British Nuclear Fuels, Ltd., then landed a job as environmental restoration vice president at Lockheed Martin.
The 12th Annual Amelia Island Decisionmakers' Forum began on the evening of Monday with a lavish reception, followed by a succession of dinners, and open bar receptions sponsored by DOE contractors including Envirocare, BWXT, Fluor, Cogema, Waste Management, Westinghouse, Parsons, IT, TRW, Dames and Moore, and MHF. The big contractors are spending big money on jumbo shrimp, wine, beer, cheese, and gourmet dinners with their name on them. I skipped their dinners and ate where the working people eat (in Fernandina Beach).
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST YOU FOR EACH DOE AND CONTRACTOR MANAGER? There are some 300 participants. For each one, it costs from $1295 to $1595 per participant, just to attend --- up to three times the prices for comparable conferences, with far less information disseminated that at other professional meetings, for some 300 conference attendees. Add to that their transportation and lodging, plus $125/day golf fees (if they don't pay out of pocket). The bottom line is that DOE has spent several millions of dollars on Amelia Island over the years.
WHERE IS THE "BENEFIT" FOR DOE AND CONTRACTORS: The main "benefit" for DOE and its contractors is secrecy, remoteness from DOE sites and an excuse for an expensive semitropical golf and beach outing at public expense. The main focus is secret discussions among DOE and contractors away from nosy employees, journalists and citizens (who might ask questions about what they're talking about).
WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DO THEY DO? Every year United States Department of Energy (DOE) and contractor managers get together at Amelia Island, Florida, for four days of sun, fun, food, drink, dishing, backpatting and the obligatory"spin." The primary mode of expression is one familiar to all who have encountered DOE: nonspecific but colorful viewgraphs and video PR presentations. They dim the lights so often one blinks at the sun. When they are not in a dark room watching colorful viewgraphs and being indoctrinated, the "Who's Who" of the DOE nuclear weapons complex is outdoors, enjoying golfing and other outdoor recreation together. DOE and contractor managers at Amelia Island are not unlike the line in the play and movie "Harvey," where the psychiatrist wants to have someone stroke him and say, "There, there." Any criticism is muted and there is little in the way of independent or dispassionate or neutral commentary. There no newspaper reporters (or even copies of their investigative stories about DOE and its contractors). While there were two General Accounting Office (GAO) auditors in attendance, asking questions, it is unknown whether they will report on FACA issues involving the DOE Forums.
CONTRACTORS GIVING ADVICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DOE: Speaker after speaker gave recommendations and advice to DOE and other participants. The information is being utilized by DOE, as advertised in the conference brochure, which states this is a "gathering of the Who's Who in the federal cleanup business, where one is able to raise key concerns with key decisionmakers." This meets the "utilization test" in the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), in my opinion.
HUNTOON KEYNOTE ADDRESS INVITES FACA VIOLATION: At the very beginning of the conference, at 8:05 AM on October 2, DOE Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management Carolyn Huntoon gave the "keynote address," in which she emphasized the need for "contractor incentives" and asked DOE's contractors to start a "contractor's roundtable" to advise the Department of Energy, stating the effort would be "contractor-led" and "contractor-organized" -- "All of you are here" at the conference, she said. The "contractor's roundtable" will advise DOE on environmental management projects. She said nothing about involving stakeholders in joining the contractors in giving advice. This is a probable violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. No one objected, and contractors indicated they were working to implement the roundtable. Huntoon was formerly the controversial Director of the NASA Johnson Space Center, whose husband was long a government contractor. She was involved in whistleblower retaliation against Martin Marietta contractor Judy Stephenson (her deposition and that of NASA Administrator Dan Goldin are posted on the Internet at the NASA Watch site).
DECLINING ATTENDANCE AND "PARTY GAP" IN SCHEDULE: After the first morning, conference attendance dropped off markedly, with half the participants at any given time out of the room, presumably meeting on Carolyn Huntoon's DOE "contractors' roundtable" -- or else golfing or engaged in other recreational activities. By the time that DOE HQ Director of Safety, Health and Security Randall Scott spoke, less than half the original attendees were present. By prior plan, on October 4, there were no speakers at all from 1 PM to 6:30 PM, giving everyone time to party and play at the luxury Amelia Island Plantation Resort. Some DOE and contractor managers took off after the conference's opening speeches and never returned to the conference room. Few took notes. Many looked hungover in the mornings. Looking at the assembled audience, it appeared that some may have been nodding off in the afternoons, and that they had that glassy-eyed look of attendees at any DOE meeting anywhere, where the primary purpose is indoctrination, not education or debate.
WHO ATTENDED/WHO SPOKE: Mainly top DOE and contractor managers, including every DOE Operations Office Manager, contractor CEOs, Presidents and Vice Presidents, top DOE Headquarters personnel, and a small handful of invited "outsiders" (a brilliant EPA scientist, Dr. Walter Kovelick, Director of the EPA Innovative Technology Officel; a Colorado regulator Steve Gunderson, and Tennessee and Ohio union leaders Carl "Bubba" Scarborough, President Oak Ridge Atomic Trades and Labor Council (ATLC) and David Fuller, PACE President for Paducah (accompanied by PACE staffer Richard Miler in the audience).
WHAT THEY SPOKE ABOUT: Mainly waste disposal, with most presentations defined by a few key words on viewgraphs, upbeat words, quotes from management and self-improvement books and recitations about particular sites, goals, contracting opportunities, budgets and accomplishments. Over 90% of speakers were DOE and contractor managers, speaking on their own programs, with little critical discussion, rebuttal or debate of any kind.
WHAT THEY WROTE FOR THE CONFERENCE: Nothing but viewgraph. No speaker provided any report accompanied by so much as a single footnote. It was the rare speaker (an EPA innovative technologies scientist) who handed out a list of web addresses on toxic waste. If you want a scholarly conference with materials you will find useful for years to come, you've come to the wrong place: this is not a scholarly conference.
WHAT WAS MOST INTERESTING:
1. "There is high concentration in a market with a limited number of suppliers," said George Johnson, Strategic Marketing Consultant. 858-456-2492. "DOE listens" to this limited number of contractors and their complaints. Mr. Johnson gave an impressive talk about trends in DOE procurement, discussing $20 billion in contracts let during the past year. He stated that DOE is unique in government procurement circles by having low-level employees decide who gets billion dollar contracts and for giving contractors very little information in debriefings on contract decisions -- a nine minute debriefing was held after the Y-12 contract decision, with no questions allowed by decision by a junior DOE attorney in Oak Ridge (which manager Gertrude Leah Dever called "the small town of Oak Ridge.") Consultant George Johnson has "concerns about the integrity of the process" in Oak Ridge when the oral presentations were not videotaped. DOE does not give much advance notice of contracting opportunities, he said. In the future, he said contractors should look more to bid protests as an avenue of recourse. The main deciding factors in recent DOE contracting decisions were: top key personnel, management/technical approach, and past performance in environment, safety and health. The new Y-12 contractor is getting a smaller fee than LMES got.
2. DOE contractors were mocked by several speakers when it came to question time, with DOE managers making remarks that discouraged tough questions. DOE managers joked about citizens not using their free speech rights, thinking it is funny to say that if someone asks a question it will affect their ability to get a contract. There was an underlying tension of contractor dissatisfaction of DOE management, which was expressed by several contractor managers, but muted out of fear of retaliation. It appears that some DOE contractor managers are as frustrated as workers and residents when it comes to DOE's arrogant attitudes.
SOME RECURRING THEMES:
1. Safety was emphasized as the "flavor of the month" by most all speakers. Bechtel Jacobs (B-J) President Joe Nemec said B-J was "committed to zero accidents." Holmes & Narver (longtime Pantex contractor) Senior Vice President Frank Coffman) executive disagreed with this goal: he was at best fatalistic on safety, claiming that workplace deaths and injuries were to be expected from a statistical standpoint, and that all could not be prevented. Other contractor managers then needled Coffman and disagreed with aplomb: one executive said hoped the Holmes & Narver airplane pilot believed in 100% safety. If a BWXT employee dies on the job, it means an "automatic" in-person meeting between the offending manager and the company CEO (and likely career consequences for the manager whose employee died). The Rocky Flats DOE Manager and others spoke of new contract terms for cleanup that heavily penalize contractor safety violations and anything that shuts down the facility, with penalties starting at $600,000 per day. DOE and contractors spoke of a renewed commitment to safety. Some were quite impressive and seemed on the ball (Rocky Flats manager, Waste Management Government Services President). Bechtel Jacobs President Joe Nemec said B-J canceled two of its Oak Ridge subcontracts for poor safety and health performance and resolved two others in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Joe Nemec bragged that he had a "favorable relation with the regulators." Others sounded like they were reading the rhetoric du jour from their viewgraphs, and didn't know what they were talking about. An air of unreality prevails. The DOE headquarters safety manager flatly proclaimed as a fact that DOE site workers have "no reluctance" and "don't fear retribution" if they use their shutdown authority. No one questioned him about where he derived this assumption. His name, title, E-mail, phone, fax and title is as follows: DOE Director of the Office of Safety, Health and Security Randal Scott. E-mail address:firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 202-586-0755 Fax: 202-586-5393 Route Symbol: EM-5 Room/Location: 5B-080 FORRESTAL BUILDING, WASHINGTON DC 20585
2. Enormous profits are to be made in cleanup under DOE contracts if cleanup is done at or under budget and on time. At Hanford alone, the Tank Farm remediation contractor could make $600 million in profits from a $4 billion project if its work is done correctly and on time. On the other hand, under BNFL's canceled contract at Hanford, being one year late could result in a $1 billion penalty. . This enormous profit potential is balanced by what BNFL CEO Paul Niskinnen called "the company buster factor" -- that noncompliance with a well-written DOE envirnonmental management contract could lead to financial ruin in the event the contractor doesn't do its job. (Mr. Niskinnen also said "some of the most dangerous work in the industry" is currently in progress at K-25). Contractors hunger for more "privatization" -- the chance to invest in new projects, with chance of higher profit through participation in some of the risks. "Privatization" is being used in Oak Ridge projects now and in the future.
3. DOE and contractor managers agreed that DOE managers aren't paid enough, based on the size of the projects they supervise. They discussed jointly lobbying to get more positions under the Senior Executive Service (SES). No one mentioned the fact that if more DOE managers are under SES, they will be easier to fire if they put worker and public health at risk.
4. Contractors and DOE and their enablers don't like criticism and don't like to acknowledge it or respond to it substantively. Mr. Steve Gunderson is Rocky Flats Project Coordinator, Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division, Department of Public Health and the Environment, State of Colorado. Mr. Gunderson sounded more like a DOE contractor manager. Gunderson said that at Rocky Flats, "we're not going to clean up groundwater for groundwater's sake." Gunderson said he "attended many buzzsaw meetings" with the public. Gunderson said he has had a lot of training on "risk communication" and thought "there are some people out there" (public interest groups) who "think they are on a mission from God." Gunderson generally showed his contempt for public interest groups and public participation, as if looking for new employment. Mr. Gunderson bragged that Colorado regulators "don't think our job is to micromanage the Site," deferring to the conclusions of a RFCA "focus group."
5. Technology for cleanup is a particular challenge, both in getting DOE sites to apply technologies developed at other DOE sites. There is a "not invented here" problem, said Gerald Boyd, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Science and Technology. Some technologies for waste disposal still don't exist. New technologies are desperately needed. DOE is particularly interested in finding ways to remotely and continuously monitor contamination for decades and centuries after the sites are closed. Achievements such as the "personal ice-cooling system" and "oxy-gasoline torch" were mentioned, allowing workers to stay in harm's way longer and allowing hotter burning, respectively. DOE gave its contractors priorities for technology development. No priority was ever mentioned for continuous monitoring of DOE incinerators. No priority was ever mentioned for more accurately measuring the presence of contaminants in the body of DOE site workers and area residents. Nothing was mentioned about health care for nuclear weapons workers, other than the DOE's support of legislation, and the fact that cleanup workers will have extended health care benefits even after sites are closed.
6. DOE is going to clean up and leave contaminated sites in its dust, with no DOE or contractor personnel planned to be on-site after cleanup and decisions yet to be made about how to preserve the records from these sites. So focused is DOE on closing sites that there is a DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Site Closure (Jim Fiore). At Fernald, there may be a museum on the site's checkered history, as well as recreation areas and a cemetery for the reinterred bodies of some of the several hundred thousand Native Americans whose bodies have been dug up in construction in Ohio and other states. Beautiful artists' conceptions showed Fernald and other sites returned to bucolic splendor: the art and viewgraph budget at DOE must be enormous.
7. Claimed accomplishments were mainly numerical, e.g., about getting specified quantities of waste off a particular DOE site or into a dump site, e.g., shipping 1000 rail cars of waste from Fernald to Envirocare in Utah, or shipping TRU and fluorides to WIPP, or shipping contaminated mixed waste and incinerating it at Oak Ridge TSCA Incinerator, which Tennesseans breathe. The usual misleading statistics about millions of work hours without loss due to injury were cited, while radiation and toxicant exposures to workers (and how to measure them) were not covered, with the only health physics speaker from NRC (on recycling issues). When accomplishments were claimed on safety or management or procedure, you could be pretty sure you were getting an overoptomistic management opinion or viewgraph slogan, not a "fact."
8. Recycling of contaminated materials was a controversial topic that was not thoroughly covered and was not evenly balanced, with DOE, industry and NRC speakers but no one speaking for the labor and public interest point of view regarding contaminated materials ending up in Americans' kitchen utensils, orthodontic braces and pacemaker and other consumer products and medical devices. There was discussion of a dedicated DOE steel mill that would recycle metals without foisting them off on the public. DOE contends that each site should have a different level of permissible contamination for recycled materials, based on background at each site. NRC said that for NRC commissioners, "it is not an issue that environmental groups are criticizing them" over radioactive recycling issues. A National Research Counsel study on recycling is not expected to issue a report until 2002. Little will happen until then.
9. Management is mainly ad hoc. Walkarounds by managers were discussed if that were a novel practice. DOE HQ Director of Safety, Health and Security Randall Scott said that DOE and its contractors are "starting to understand roles and responsibilities" -- 57 years after the complex began. DOE managers who came from other agencies and from industry were mystified at DOE's ways, finding resistance to monthly and quarterly review of projects, for example.
10. DOE dependence on contractors remains almost total. DOE is notorious on having contractors do its work, even writing speeches and Congressional testimony for several successive Secretaries of Energy. Dependence on contractors continues. DOE's new contractor management manual was written by Westinghouse (now the Washington Group, of which former DOE Oak Ridge Operations Manager Jim Hall is now the Vice President).
11. Congress can have enormous influence. Congress forced DOE to establish an Office of River Protection: Director Dr. Harry Boston is charged with cleanup of the Hanford Tank Farms, whose contents will be turned to glass in a massive 15 year industrial undertaking by DOE in its contractor, costing billions of dollars. No one ever mentioned any possibility that DOE might be altered or abolished. Mention of the National Nuclear Security Authority (NNSA) and its existence was with a smirk, as if DOE would continue doing things as it did in the past, with NNSA an inconvenience.
WHO DIDN'T SPEAK: No environmental or citizens group leader spoke. No newspaper reporters or editors covering DOE issues spoke. No state or federal legislators investigating DOE spoke. No sick workers or residents spoke, other than a brief question by Mike Tulloh. No lawyer for DOE victims spoke. Exchange-Monitor Publications Publisher Ed Helminski invited PRESS delegate Mike Tulloh, prevailing plaintiff in a $100,000 jury verdict against Martin Marietta, to speak at the end of the conference. Mr. Tulloh never got to speak: the promise was broken.
WHO WASN'T THERE: Sick workers and residents, whistleblowers, newspaper reporters, women and minorities, Democrats. The crowd was over 90% white men, mostly Republican. Most of the women were DOE managers: few women attended from contractor organizations. There were only a couple African-American people and one Asian-American. Despite DOE's pretense to diversity, the hierarchy of DOE's contractors remains overwhelmingly white and male.
HOW THE DOE AND CONTRACTOR MANAGERS DRESSED IN DAYTIME: Golf casual. Not one pair of blue jeans was observed. There were no t-shirts or tie-died shirts in view. Few ties were in evidence, mainly on speakers (and this observer).
MANAGERS BREATHING POLLUTED AIR: Despite their cushy choice of location at the Amelia Island Plantation Resort, DOE and contractor managers could not avoid breathing actual pollution from ITT-Rayonier and Jefferson Smurfit plants, with their authentic papermill odors: touring around the historic town of Fernandina Beach, or even walking around the conference facility the last day, one could not avoid the smell of eau d' papermill at times.
WHAT THEY JOKED ABOVE: Mostly aging and golf (safe topics). Government environmental regulations (one manager said the only safety problem he'd encountered was dropping a NEPA report on his foot). There were no jokes about the swankiness of the resort, the people who paid, the people who were excluded or the topics left unaddressed. Those jokes are implied: they are on the rest of us.
WHERE THEY STAYED: In $99 hotel rooms and $285/night ocean villas, paid for with your tax dollars.
A MEETING OF "DOE, CONTRACTORS AND FRIENDS": It finally hit me when the last speaker spoke. Although all others spoke live and in person, at the end of the conference there was a live satellite video of Deputy Secretary T.J. Glauthier reading to us from a Teleprompter in the bowels of the basement of the Forrestal Building. He greeted us as "DOE employees, contractors and friends." DOE really needs friends these days. Few would admit that DOE was their friend. No, this is not about friendship. It is like the mobster's girlfriend finally says of his business in the movie and play, "Born Yesterday" --- "IT'S A CARTEL!" This is what President Eisenhower warned us about in his 1961 Farewell Address about these cartelists: "the conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence ...is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the Federal Government ... In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist...We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted."
WHO IS ED HELMINSKI? Publisher and general factotum of Exchange-Monitor Publications, which publishes Nuclear Weapons Monitor, a publication on DOE and the nuclear weapons business, written primarily for businessmen, with a business point of view.
WHAT DID ED HELMINSKI DO TO EMBARRASS HIMSELF AS A "JOURNALIST"?
1. Mr. Helminski asked weak and flabby questions when his attendees feared to ask any.
2. Mr. Helminski generally allowed DOE and contractors to "spin" on about current events of great controversy and press interest -- Paducah, Portsmouth, Rocky Flats and Oak Ridge come to mind -- without questioning or criticism. Meanwhile, BNFL bombed out of its Hanford contract. Paducah is under criminal investigation. But all is rosy in the contractor CEOs' and Presidents' eyes and no tough questions are asked of them. Paducah Bechtel-Jacobs manager Tom Dover actually said that the federal investigations at Paducah "had a chilling effect on the workforce," but was not questioned by Helminski about such an odd claim. DOE and contractor managers could have confessed to antitrust violations and Mr. Helminski would not have asked the first followup question. With no daily newspaper journalists present, the truly tough questions never got asked. Mr. Helminski evidently prefers a DOE love-in to a teach-in about what is really happening at DOE.
3. Mr. Helminski accepted my presence for three days, but cut me off the one time I got up to ask my first question, prematurely ending the conference five minutes early to keep me from asking a question of Deputy Secretary T.J. Glauthier. After Glauthier's glowing report to DOE, contractors and Friends," I had stood at a microphone prepared to ask a question, but I never got to do so. Choosing to censor free speech, Mr. Helminski ended the session five minutes early, saying to Glauthier and the audience that "there's a non-attendee (sic) here." Then Mr. Helminski accosted and insulted me after the conference ended.
4. No videotapes are made or allowed of the proceeding: Mr. Helminski stopped Mike Tulloh from videotaping before he ever got started. Likewise, there is no FACA charter, Federal Register notice, no requirement for fairly balanced membership, no transcripts and no open meetings. This is the way it has been every year for the past twelve years, with "DOE, its contractors and friends" as Deputy Secretary T. J. Glauthier put it, discussing nuclear weapons plant cleanup issues in semitropical breezes at someone else's expense, spending other peoples' money, making profits for the Exchange/ Monitor publications and contacts for all DOE managers looking for contractor jobs.
5. There was only one discordant note during the entire conference. Mr. Helminski tried to make an ugly scene at the end of the conference, loudly berating me and apparently attempting to provoke some sort of incident. Mr. Helminski was trying to embarrass me just as conference participants were leaving. At approximately 12:01 PM on October 5, 2000, Mr. Helminski accosted me at the end of the FACA-violating meeting. He called out my name twice, in the Air Force manner. Then he said loudly, twice: "You're a trespasser." Then he said loudly, "You're an unethical attorney. I'm going to send you a bill. If you don't pay it, Ill send it to a bill collector." No bill has been received as of 6PM October 11, 2000. I had been in attendance at the Twelfth Annual Weapons Complex Monitor Decisionmakers' Forum as the delegate from the Coalition for a Health Environment (CHE) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, whose President was invited to attend and who designated me as CHE's delegate. The preceding week, Mr. Helminski at first had offered me a "scholarship" upon verification of my status from CHE. Then he tried to recruit CHE President Harry Williams in my place: Harry wrote him an E-mail and said he could not make it and that I would be CHE's representative. During the conference, I sat with Mike Tulloh from PRESS. I sat in the second row of the conference for three days, never asking a single question of a single speaker. My presence was not disputed in any way. Mr. Helminski's Editor-in-Chief even came up to Mike Tulloh and I and asked if we were "getting all we needed" and to check with him if we needed more printed matter. Yet despite accepting my presence for three days, Mr. Helminski belatedly made a scene just after the conference adjourned. At 12:01 PM on October 5, 2000, Mr. Helminski called out loudly to me at the back of the room at the end of the conference, "Mr. Slavin, Mr. Slavin!" Mr. Ed Helminski refused to shake my hand and was most unpleasant. He accosted us on our way out of the conference to denounce me as a "trespasser "and "unethical" and to say that he was sending me "a bill" and that if I did not pay he would send a "bill collector." Having just interfered with my right to ask a question of Deputy Secretary Glauthier, I do not think that Mr. Helminski was in a position to bill me for anything. I replied that I would sue him, that he was unethical, and that he was being rude, loud and obnoxious. I reckon if I was a "trespasser," he would have called the local county Sheriff, whose name was on the c: list of my letter to Secretary Richardson, and had me arrested. He never even gave me a bill. Mr. Helminksi was loud and attempted to provoke something as the remaining participants were leaving the room after the closing address by Deputy Secretary Glauthier, via satellite. I reckon Mr. Helminski and Exchange-Monitor Publications make a lot of money from DOE meetings and FACA violations every year and doesn't want to lose his income stream. He has said mean things about me to others, based upon unstated information he has received from DOE and contractors.
I wear Mr. Ed Helminski's scorn as a badge of honor, and submit this report for sharing with whistleblowers, sick workers and friends, so that DOE's victims may know what goes on at Amelia Island and whether it should matter to them. If I have offended anyone, I apologize: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
SAME TIME NEXT YEAR: PRESS delegate Mike Tulloh and CHE/UTAH DOWNWINDERS delegate Ed Slavin both live in North Florida, close to the site of the Amelia Island Plantation (Mike lives just down the road). We look forward to seeing the DOE Decisionmakers "same time next year." The conference is a waste of taxpayers money -- mostly agency and corporate managers giving their spin on their own programs accompanied by viewgraphs -- the sort of uninspiring presentations that does not require a golf outing. We have asked DOE to halt its violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act and its participation in this wasteful conference. If the Amelia Island conference continues, there must be a continuing presence to report back to sick workers and residents, whistleblowers and other DOE victims.
As I wrote Secretary of Energy Richardson on September 28th: "DOE managers are utilizing the opinions of DOE Contractor management on a regular annual basis with no FACA charter, Federal Register notice, no requirement for fairly balanced membership, no transcripts and no open meetings -- every year for the past twelve years, discussing nuclear weapons plant cleanup issues in semitropical breezes at someone else's expense, spending other peoples' money. DOE managers "host[ed]" by the "Marching and Chowder Society" make contacts that will eventually yield them what all expect from this annual game of "Beach Blanket Bingo". With the right deference, a high-paying Contractor job can be yours too, just as Secretary O'Leary took and just as so many DOE managers have taken in going to work for DOE Contractors, including Messrs. Pearman, LaGrone, Lawrence, Hall, Snyder, et al."
DOE never responded, except to go on with its 12th Amelia Island meeting.
In its current format, the Amelia Island fraternity party is like the song "Home on the Range": There "never was heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day."DOE and contractor managers listen to each other's "spin" on events and give soothing speeches with viewgraphs. In contrast to other Exchange/Monitor forums, no scientific papers are presented. Little or no new information is exchanged. Amelia Island is an expensive junket for DOE and contractor managers to have private discussions and give each other "warm fuzzies" (the satirical engineering term at the Johnson Space Center for nonspecific assurances that everything is "A-OK.") The annual Amelia Island activity is not worth a multi-million dollar pricetag. DOE regulations should be amended to ban DOE and contractor managers from participating in such self-delusions as Amelia Island at government expense. FACA violations should be halted.
SIGN UP FOR SCHOLARSHIPS NOW: Exchange-Monitor also holds other conferences, including an October 30 to November 2, 2000 Scottsdale, Arizona Decisionmakers Forum on low level radioactive waste. Consider applying for that "scholarship" now. Contact Ed Helminski at: Exchange/Monitor Publications and Forums, 1913 Eye Street,N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006 Tel: 202-296-2814x27; Fax: 202-296-2805. http://www.exchangemonitor.com