A Brief History of Bechtel-a research report by a concerned citizen, for No Nuke Action’s June 10 day of solidarity
Below is our member’s research on how Bechtel involves in nuclear-industrial complex. This summary was distributed during our June 10th protest.
Who are these Bechtel guys anyway and how did they get so damned big? They’re the third largest privately held company in the world, with CEO Riley Bechtel himself one of the richest men in America. You don’t get that way without some good connections. What are theirs?
Well, it seems that it all started here on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge job, where Stephen Bechtel Sr. formed a partnership for the construction of the bridge with a character by the name of John McCone. That person then went on to become President Eisenhower’s chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission during the massive nuclear arms buildup carried out under the guise of “Atoms for Peace.” He later became CIA Director under Kennedy and Johnson, at the height of the Cold War atomic race.
At every step in his career, McCone brought along his business partner, Stephen Bechtel, nurturing a deep partnership between the U.S. Government and this private for-profit corporation. Stephen Bechtel Sr. served as president of the very influential Business Council in 1958-59, an advisory board of the nation’s largest industry leaders, allegedly serving as the CIA’s contact on that council.
The famous elder statesman George Schultz served as Secretary of the Treasury under Nixon, then did eight years as president and director of Bechtel, then was Secretary of State under Reagan, then returned to Bechtel. What more is there to say?
Unfortunately, plenty. How about good old “Cap” Weinberger, Reagan’s hawkish Secretary of Defense? He was a former Bechtel General Counsel and Vice President. And speaking of nuclear, we have someone by the name of Robert Hollingsworth, the Atomic Energy Commission general manager under Nixon, who was something called a “manpower manager” at Bechtel. Or one Kenneth Davis, Bechtel Vice President for nuclear issues, who became Reagan’s undersecretary of Energy.
Bechtel built the Tarapur Nuclear Plant in India, which was the source of the plutonium used to explode India’s first bomb, which set off the nuclear race in South Asia, leading to the much-feared Pakistani bomb and the proliferation of bomb technology to such places as Iran. That happened because Nixon eased restrictions to allow Bechtel and others to sell enriched uranium on the world market. That restriction was re-imposed after India exploded the bomb, but was later eased again under Schultz and Reagan.
Bechtel keeps a foot in the door of the Export-Import Bank, making sure it has competitive advantage in overseas ventures. Two of the Bank’s Presidents have worked for Bechtel. Riley Bechtel was appointed by George Bush Jr. to something called the President’s Export Council, while his company was making huge profits from the Iraq War.
‘War is good business for them. The more stuff is broken, the more money they make fixing it, rebuilding bombed roads, bridges, dams, power plants, all big-ticket items taken out by our bombs.
It’s the same with nuclear power-the worse the disaster, the more money they make off it. Imagine how much they’re making right now from managing the so-called Shelter Implementation Plan at Chernobyl, slowly building a humungous arched enclosure for that still-toxic plant. Cleanup is their growth industry, with projects in Three-Mile Island, the Nevada Test Site, the Idaho Test Site, Savannah River, Rocky Flats, Oak Ridge, Paducah and the infamously toxic Hanford Reprocessing Center, where they’re building a plant to store nuclear waste by encasing it in glass somehow. And of course they are working in Fukushima with the other merchants of death, trying to put the lid on a disaster that threatens the hoped-for profits of the much-heralded nuclear renaissance.
I don’t know: when I read that they installed the San Onofre nuclear reactor backwards, which means the seismic bracing was backwards which would actually multiply the effects of an earthquake, it made me wonder if I could really trust these guys.