Poteau High School Alumni

Poteau, Oklahoma (OK)

Alumni Stories

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Sara Tennell Kitchen

Class of 1977

In high school it was popular to say 'make love not war' and 'save our planet', I did not realize that I, would indeed grow up to actually take steps to really save our planet. Me,an enviromentalist., I did not forsee this, when I was in high school. Well, that is what I am doing, and here is my story in the short form, as it is really extensive I will try to keep it short.
I moved to Canon City, CO in 1997.My husband and I bought our home in 1999 and we didn't know that our home was located in a super fund site. and it is something that the town does not talk about.
In 2002 12 people came together and formed Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste,"CCAT". We formed after the local Uranium Mill Cotter announced that they were to become a waste dispository for contaimated waste.Cotter was built in the 50's and sits at the edge of town uphill and up stream to the Arkansas River, less than 1 1/2 mile.Because of poor milling practice in the day it had already polluted the ground water here which resulted in the "Lincolin Park Superfund Site" the underground polluting of the water was discovered in the early 90's, and it is something that is not talked about. Cotter had been dormat from 1996 to 2001 and in 2002 is when Cotter announced that they entered into agreement to except contaimanted soils for direct disposial in impoundment ponds that were constructed in the early 80's. The construction of these impoundment ponds are questionable, as at least 62 holes and tears were documented during construction process. These pondsare where the soils were to be deposited.
The soils are from the Maywood New Jersey Super Fund clean up site. And have be the cause of numerous cancers in the community.
When the 12 people formed CCAT I was elected to be the Spokes Person for group, and that evening I did spoke to a TV news channel out of Denver, and we were launched. Our first step was for us to educate our group so we were informed and knowelageable about this complex subject and task that we took on. Less than a month later myself and the 2 co-chairs went to Denver and testified to the state legislature and with the help of Lois Spradley, The Speaker of the House, we got the first House Bill that we presented passed into law HB1408. This bill in short bought CCAT some time and slowed down Cotter atempt tp bring the Maywood soils.The next year CCAT hired a powerful law firm and HB1348 was passed.This law regulates how and what can be transported thru the state of colorado as it pertains to contaimated waste.
Then in 2003 CCAT was presented the "Community Service Award", and in 2004 we recieved the EPA's 'Citizens Excellence In Community Involvement Award' which is given to the group that has done the most for their community and this is given once a year. Well CCAT in 2005 has also set presidence to being named and were able to be represent ourselves at the Hearing the Colorado Department of Health and Enviroment held on the license renewal of Cotter, our testimony and the fact findings that CCAT persented by doctors and scientist was the deciding factor in the out come of the guidlines to their license. Laywers are now using this tactic and our findings on the Social Econic Impact of such a facility so close to a community to be a damaging factor. At I am happy to say that Cotter has not recieved the Maywood soils yet and this is Sept of 2007.
That sums it up. Thank you for your time.
Sara (Tennell) Kitchen 1977 grad.

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