Filter by:


H.C. Clark Interview, Part 2 of 2

  • Normal
  • Large video
  • Large content
  • Full video
"rtmpconf":{ type:"flv", file:"rtmp://", baseUrl:wgScriptPath + "/extensions/player/", streamServer:'', width:"480", height:"360", config:{ showBrowserControls:false }, poster:"/index.php?action=ajax%26rs=importImage%26rsargs[]=%26rsargs[]=480", controls:{ _timerStyle:"sides" } }
Table of Contents 
  •  Interview Start 
  •  Comments about the Interview 
Loading Google Maps...
  •  DT:On our earlier tape we were just finishing off talking about Sierra Blanca and—and you were being modest and saying that—that you weren't totally responsible for its—the denial of the permit—the low level radioactive waste site there, but that George Bush takes some credit and I was wondering if you could explain more about how that might be. 
  •  HC:I don't know how actively he would take the credit, but he did—he did get the credit and the—I—I have mixed feelings about how the political process works its way into things that are so—well, so technically based and yet publicly involved. And—and so that was one situation where there was a technical reason, the—the fault, that they hadn't that—that probably for a kind of academically political reason they did not pursue or—or carefully study. 
  •  But—but then you—you have a technical basis that I was comfortable with for denying a permit and—and it may well have been granted, at least at one point. You know they jump from site to site but all those sites were out in west Texas and so at—at some point it became politically reasonable for there to be a denial of a—an application that close to Mexico. And Mexico sent— 
  •  I mean the—the—the agenda day was a—the—there was a large delegation from Mexico there and there was an interpreter, a real time interpreter, speaking into a horn they could all listen to. So their presence was—was very clear and—and that I'm sure had a great bearing on the—well, I'm sure that had a reasonable and political bearing on the—at least the commissioners feeling free to deny the application. And the state had put a ton of money into it as well as others. So that was the basis for the people kidding me saying yeah, you and George Bush. 
  •  DT:George Bush or at least his appointees might have decided it was best to vote against approval of the permit because it might have dissatisfied some of the Hispanic vote here and then some of the international party's in Mexico as well. Potential treaty holders and so on. 
  •  HC:Well, that's right. I mean my heavens they put it—I mean you talk about people saying not in my backyard well, lots of times they're pretty good reasons for not having something in—in your backyard and this would have been in Mexico's backyard and then that—that concern gets processed and—and transferred to—to voters in the U.S. I—I think that's a—I mean that's a pretty large scale political impact and it runs of—it runs to gamut. 
  •  But I—I know that we had a proposal for decision at—at the Canyon Landfill where Rick Lowry had a perfectly reasonable concept and that is don't let this landfill expand until they understand and remedy the ground water contamination coming from the old landfill. Let them go ahead and build in the new area where they will go in and—and put in a liner and everything else, but—but it's unreasonable for them to expand where—where they've got groundwater contamination and we thought that the rules said so as well. 
  •  And—and we got a PFD with that in mind—I mean with that—based on that, but there was no political opposition to it. We had—I think there was—well, basically one client right next to the landfill and they ended up—they got their permit and of course they didn't expand in the area of whe—which would have required a great deal of money. 
  •  They expanded vertically over the—over the area that they already occupied and the area is still con—contaminated. But that—that was a—that's an example of—of the appearance, at least, that, you know, you're out of sight out of mind out in the country and one out—one member of the opposition. 
  •  DT:Can you tell us an example of another politician that might have been swayed and influential in one of these technical decisions. For example, the incident in North Dayton. 
  •  HC:In that case the—the—well, I felt and I think it's clear that—that putting caverns on the outside edge of the rind of the salt dome without, you know, without a great deal of knowledge was—was not a reasonable thing to do. So I felt comfortable that the—the total decision should have gone against them. But at that time the governor was Ann Richards and she was running for re-election and—and she spoke to crowded venues whenever she came to that part. 
  •  And she—she went over to the North Dayton area and spoke to them and that—that became a—kind of a—the environmental rallying cry for that part of her campaign. And so I think again the commissioners at least felt that they had—they could be comfortable in—in making the decision to deny the landfill. And now—that thing—that application was—was by an investor from the east and—and so you weren't, you know, you weren't losing that kind of ground and so they had lots of things going with them. 
  •  An example of o—a far more local political situation was—was up where my farm is in Limestone County and that's where the—the—we all—in Limestone County we've got a lot of limestone—a lot of limestone mining for crushed rock and if it's not crushed enough when they get it out of the ground they run it through a rock crusher and that sets off a lot of dust. And the trucks don't have the best driving record in the county, so lot's of—lots of reasons to not want a—dust—dust and noise being made on the—not want a rock crusher around. 
  •  And you may not think that's a geologic situation but when you have a geologist standing around then—then it becomes one. And—and the, you know, a county is in a difficult position. The judge, a wonderful woman, Eleanor Holmes and so she can be more, I guess, over—over the situation. County commissioners need crushed rock for their roads so they're—they're a little more difficult to sway. But anyway, there was a hearing over simply whether or not there got to be a hearing. 
  •  And—and so there were people who did not want this and one man, Sonny Adams in particular and his neighbor, but they lived on a part of the—the little lake that was next to where they wanted to put the coring operation and next to Fort Parker, which is the kind of recreational spot for the county. And they—the—the judge, administrative law judge, was going to deny them party status because they lived on a—in an area that would not be affected by any effluent from the rock crusher. 
  •  And—and he said you're—because you're on a lake and—and everything will go into the lake and move down from you—move away from you downstream. And I looked at the—at the proposal that they had there in a binder and the—the applicant engineer had put in three water levels; one at the dam, one pretty near where these two people lived. 
  •  And it was his mistake, whether it was a mistake or not, the elevation at the dam was higher or the water at the dam was higher than the elevation at these guys houses so that made the water flow backward toward them. So they got their hearing and the judge thought—the county judge thought that was great and she helped Stuart and—and put her political interests behind him and so the applicant after fuming and fussing and not being very courteous about it withdrew their application because they saw the whole kind of county political apparatus turn against them. 
  •  And it—they have plenty of limestone elsewhere and so for the time being they abandoned the project, but that—that to me was an example of an immediate political pressure and they just saw the handwriting and—and decided against it. You get all—you—you get ranges of political involvement from the very highest level down to county and city. 
  •  DT:It sounds like this—last case in Limestone County turned in part upon whether the opponent would even get party status, would even have standing, and I'm wondering if that happens very often and more often than it did in the past where opponents had a difficult time just getting into the forum, getting to be part of the venue? 
  •  HC:I think—I think it's more difficult to get party status. You have to show a more direct affect and that's not easy to do and you have to live virtually on top of the project. So the days of—of being down wind from a landfill are—are probably over. 
  •  DT:Can you talk about the politics of the applicants? 
  •  HC:I think—I think the applicant is typically pretty well connected. Down in Fort Bend County that was the Fort Bend County landfill so that was—that was a service to a large community and that was a political, you know, regardless of the geology in their problem that was a political situation. 
  •  Often times when a municipality like that is the applicant then—then that is a—politics becomes a force. I worked with Bob Kier and Pierce Chandler and—and Kerry Russell was the attorney for North Texas Municipal Utility District and we—we had a—an agenda session last week. 
  •  And they—they had every possible political person there at the—at that hearing for all some—20 some communities that that landfill is going to serve. And so they, you know, they made an impressive showing of—of people and the—the other side didn't have that much in the way of opposition. So that—that was a political effort on the part of an applicant and I'm sure when I've been on the—on the opposition side I'm sure there have been political things going on that I had no idea about. 
  •  DT:Can you talk about the Tri-Sill case? 
  •  HC:Well, that had been a—an ongoing landfill since pre-permit times. And—and that was a—a planned expansion for both municipal and industrial non-hazardous waste, be a very large, you know, a very large landfill, the plan was. But it was in a—the—the geologic framework was the gravel and it was a series of gravels and some gravels there were even more permeable and transmissive than others. And so the water that would go out of that site would go very quickly over to Colorado River and that was—that was the basis of LCRA's [Lower Colorado River Authority's] concern. 
  •  But they were also—I—I didn't witness them being—well, they—they were—they helped with the political organizing and meetings and—and—and that sort of thing. But I think after a while it was clear to the applicant that—that—I mean this is my take on it or spin. 
  •  The applicant figured if I've got LCRA to look at there are better places to have a landfill and—and they withdrew the application. And the application had kind of gradually shrunk and they tossed out the industrial part. They had tossed out a couple of other things and so the landfill was virtually, you know, a pretty small landfill by the time they finally withdrew it. 
  •  DT:Can you talk about the different kinds of geologies and treatment or storage systems that you would use for highly toxic waste or even radioactive waste, which has a very long lifespan versus more conventional waste? 
  •  HC:I think that—well, I think the difference is what you hit on there is that—is length of dangerous lifetime. And—and so—plus the ultimate danger of—of whatever that waste may be and so municipal landfills can be plenty juicy. But a hazardous waste landfill, well, you don't want any juice. That is that's one—one kind of built in safeguard these days. 
  •  That is that—that you would have to solidify hazardous waste before you disposed of it in a—in a landfill situation. And in fact that—that—that is becoming more and more difficult to do and there are some existing hazardous waste landfills but they tend to expand. But creating a new one is not easy and so you'd have to have a good site, you'd have to have a solidification process. You—typically you would have more than one liner in a hazardous waste landfill and you would have more than one detection system, so you'd have a detection system between liners and things like that. 
  •  DT:Do you think that there are some kinds of wastes that are just too long lived, too toxic to be disposed of and that they should only be stored and stored above ground? 
  •  HC:Well, that's an interesting concept and that—that has been looked at for years. The—one of the original plans for a salt dome disposal of hazardous waste was simply for storage and a company wanted to put the waste into a series of caverns in a dome in Louisiana and—and store it there because they figured well, it's waste now, but eventually it may not be waste. It may be a valuable product, you know, a useful product, so we'll put it here and then we'll come back and get it back out. 
  •  And the concept didn't go very far because then people thought well, it's not really disposed of, it's just waiting out in our backyard. And so that was—that was politically unpopular and philosophically unpopular I guess. Now a part of the Yucca Mountain project where they're going to put nuclear waste in, you know, in tunnels in the mountain in casks, part of that is they have to show that it will be retrievable for a significant period of time. 
  •  And so the concept of—of retrievability for particularly toxic material is a, you know, is a real—a real concept. Now whether they would actually go through the—the act of retrieving something that had been involved in some kind of accident underground is—is—may be another thing, but at least they're talking about the idea of retrievability. 
  •  DT:Do you have any comments about these different time scales that you deal with? 
  •  HC:Well, that's right and that's—to me that—I thought about geologic time—I mean geologists have to think about that and I—I—it's difficult to grasp the idea of geologic time involved in environmental processes. But you—you talked about the political cy—you know, there are cycles—there are ways of telling time that we know about and we can feel and understand and—and geologic time seems pretty abstract. 
  •  I mean you can't have a feel for the next ice age and yet that's what—what—if—if you're going to talk about something being dangerous for ten thousand years, which seems to be kind of the typical congressional concept of—of forever, you have to look at the onset or—or a great deal of climate change, things that we—we really can't—I don't have a feel for a glacier coming down the—across the continent, but you have to think about things like that and what affect they may have on—on—on whatever the process is. 
  •  But I—I had to give a talk—I didn't have to I—I got to give a talk to the freshman class one time on rocks and time and I was—I was a kid. I was 40 years old, you know, and I didn't have any feel for a lifetime or that many cycles. I get a lot better feel for time now and—and I've lived almost long enough to cover most of the toxic—toxicity lifetimes that you could think of. It—it's difficult to get a—to—to project a feel of time scale into—into these processes and in fact these—these contentious processes. 
  •  You—you asked me a little while ago what—whether people were really concerned over long term effect on the environment or what was just going to happen to them and I thing they're concerned over just what was going to happen to them and I—that's because they can't have the same feel for—for the immensity of time that will be—well, it will dominate—I mean you put together a pretty good project it's not going to leak for awhile and in—so the—the problems are going to come further down the road. 
  •  DT:After working on these cases for many years do you think that that advocacy system is a good way to determine these paces? 
  •  HC:I think so, yeah, because the—the, you know the—the idea of dueling experts I don't see that as a—maybe the things I'm involved in don't involve that high a profile of an expert where that kind of thing, you know, it's my word against his because there's—there—you know they are facts, they are objects, they are bore holes, they are, you know, there—there's a lot of evidence and it's a—it's a matter of how well organized and how definitive your evidence may be. So the dueling expert thing it—I think gets pretty well tested. Maybe sometimes I don't think that but—but I think the proc—that part of it get—gets pretty well tested. And then they—the adversarial situation 
  •  that's pretty healthy because I think the—if you get good adversaries then—then they are testing each others evidence and you end up with a pretty, you know, a pretty—what? A investigated or—or, you know, a situation that's been thoroughly looked at. I—a very political and I wasn't, you know, I didn't have a big part of it but a very political landfill case was out here on the north side of town and it was a—oh, two or three years ago now, and it was a—just a Type 4 landfill. 
  •  I mean it was supposed to be for construction and demolition waste so—but it—and it was to fill in an old sand pit. So these people, the investors, thought that would be a good place to—to be, plus there was a lot of construction going on around there. Well, the other side thought well there's a lot of construction because we live here and—and oh, that became the base of a—a congressional campaign. 
  •  I mean who could get more busloads of people to the—to the hearing and it was very contentious and the dueling experts in that case were land use experts. And—and the dueling evidence was whose perspective computer simulation of what this landfill is going to look like is real? And—and Blackburn destroyed this one poor guy who got up there. He had these pictures of this landfill projection and his scale was wrong. 
  •  And—and he just hap—Jim just happened to see that and the guy just dissolved. I mean he wasn't worth anything after that. So that—that dueling expert lost the duel and—and the commission then found that prospective land use is a factor that can be used in landfill citing and decision making. So that was a—that was a very real finding for the first time. 
  •  DT:It seems like most waste site decisions are made individually and there isn't a lot of prospective planning. There's not a lot of land use mapping that's done before hand saying that this is a good geology let's put all our waste sites over there. It seems much more of an individual case by case way of deciding on waste management. Which do you think is the better way to go? 
  •  HC:I think the real way—I—I—I mean realistically you c—you—it's difficult to think of a situation where a—a political body would decide this part of a county is a great place to put a landfill. Now there are maps and there are concepts that say you want to site a landfill where in—in geology that is not a bunch of gravel, but more preferably a massive clay with a—some kind of thin sand somewhere beneath it that can serve as a sensing system. 
  •  And so information about that kind of—of siting is—is readily available to people who would go and look for it. And so I think it's more real that someone will find some available land and then go and have that land looked at to see if that—that makes a landfill s—site there reasonable rather than condemning half a county for—as a reasonable place to put a landfill. 
  •  DT:How has it been to try and lead this duel life of having one foot in the academic abstract world of teaching and research and the other in this very political controversial realm? 
  •  HC:Well, I think if I hadn't—it wouldn't be fun if I hadn't met the people I'd met and kind of fallen into a—to a niche that—that has allowed me to work with—with pretty interesting and smart and talented academic kind of people. I—I mean every one of these environmental problems is a research project in itself. 
  •  And there's a lot of thinking that goes on in that and so it—it—you're not just working in some kind of a vacuum. You're dealing with—with interesting people every day and it—and if I didn't have that kind of cadre of folks it would—it wouldn't be nearly as interesting. And then I got—I—I was lucky in that I got into some situations where we ended up winning and that was fun. 
  •  I mean that was a competitive and—and, you know, kind of back on the rugby field process and—and you keep at it long enough and you're going to—going to score some points. So—so that part was—was enjoyable and—and kind of—once you do that and then you know more than the next guy and so that—so that makes it both interesting and—and—and it doesn't not fit with academia. 
  •  I think it—it—the information I've gotten to deal with is not simply going to the library and getting some papers. It's actual—actual site spec—specific geology information that requires interpretation and—and—and so that part has also been interesting, you know, the kind of the academic area of it. 
  •  DT:What sort of reaction did you get from your students and your fellow faculty members or administrators to the kind of environmental geology work that you were doing? 
  •  HC:Well, I think as far as students are concerned it—it—it allowed me to bring to them some things about geologic hazards that kind of represented hand on experience. And—well, for example, the—the—in a way it was like the architecture department where the teachers in the architecture department are expected to have their own practice so that they can then bring that practice to bear on their—their—keep current and—and bring that practice to bear on their own teaching. 
  •  I—I never, you know, as far as environmentally active that sort of thing I don't think ever had a—I was never pressured in any way by faculty or administration to not do that sort of thing in the—in the way that pressures came about in the 60's and early 70's for faculty to not be politically involved. So at least if there was that kind of pressure I was naïve enough not to sense it and—and it was—and—and it was pretty much extra curricular as well, and you know it happened far enough outside of the nine to five job that it—it was—it was possible to do it. 
  •  DT:Would you say you have not had any conflict between the duel nature of advocacy and objectivity? 
  •  HC:I think there's—there's always that—always that aspect of it and the ad—advocacy—the advocacy comes out I think as functioning as part of a team and a team with a—with a particular goal. But—so to that extent when you are working on a project say for a citizens group or a—or anybody for that matter you are an advocate to the extent that you are—you're part of that group and you're making suggestions. 
  •  And you're probably not out—well, you—you may be out there pointing out the bad points of a—of a particular project but that advocacy is—that's pretty limited because if you're—you can get caught awfully easily if you just go off, you know, jump off a limb and start waving your arms because someone else just as smart as you i—are and they're going to—they're going to say but wait. 
  •  And in fact when—when I worked with people proposing a project I think one of mine—my main jobs is to say wait a minute, that's not—that's not good enough or that's—or you forgot to think about this or you haven't made a clear statement of how you're going to deal with this problem. 
  •  DT:Um, can we just stop one moment? 
  •  HC:From the standpoint of—I—maybe we're all naïve but once—one anecdote about possible, and it never got to that point where the school was involved, but one of the projects I worked on had a—had a rather active citizen group and—and there was a public meeting to kick off the administrative hearing. The administrative hearing was starting and it was in the—it started in the gymnasium over in the—in North Dayton and do you remember Governor Daniel from the Governor of Guam? 
  •  He was appointed Governor of Guam. A real character and dressed in a plantation outfit. He had the crowd all whooped up during the day and oh, he was an excellent orator and then—but the—the—the citizen group—one of—the—these two old guys would go past the office of the—of the applicant every trash day and they would take the bags of trash that were there and they would replace the bags of trash with other trash. 
  •  And—and so they would go through that and—and there'd be these file folders and—but one of the—they didn't find much, but one of the things they found was a—was a to-do list from a meeting that these people had had. And—and the to-do list was—well, it was a long list of things and—but high on that list were—were investigations of Phil Bedient and I—me. 
  •  They wanted to see if we had tenure. They wanted to see what—what being involved in a thing like this on behalf of the city and county would do to Rice's tax exempt status. They did—there were two or three other things that were just—just off the wall on their list and so Blackburn took the—took the list and went to the extended hearing that evening. It was still kind of the public part of the hearing. 
  •  They had the applicant—the—the president of the company on the stand. He was talking about how wonderful his application was. He said, "well, you guys have been real busy, haven't you?" And he said, "Yeah" (they spent 13 million dollars), and he said "Why yes, we have", and he started reading from that list. 
  •  Of course, the guy was trapped. It was his handwriting and he went down the list and oh, the—I mean it just—well it—I would like to think that it was a key part of—I mean the opposition never let up from then on. And of course they got after Blackburn and—and—and—and they—the—well, they were very upset and—but it came to nothing and so it—it—it was just one of those great stories that—of things appearing in the night already in file folders all flattened back out and everything. 
  •  DT:Are there some cases that you recall that were great victories and others that were great frustrations? 
  •  HC:I thought the—the ultimate end of the Fort Bend county thing was—was, you know, that I—I felt good about that because that was an extended period of staying with something after it appeared to be defeated. I thought the—the landfarm down in Sweeny was a good one. That was as similar. Those were—those were great people and that was early in the stuff that I was doing. 
  •  The Chem Waste Management withdrew a project out in west Texas for hazardous waste landfill that I thought had some good geophysics in it for its basis. I wasn't that comfortable about the landfill in North Houston being denied on the basis of land use. I thought that was a—that was a—more political than it should have been. I mean I felt uncomfortable having those people get denied their permit on what was clearly a mass vote situation. 
  •  I was—I didn't like losing the Long Point thing, but I didn't see any way that—that it—it could have worked differently. The—that injection well up in Winona was a—that was a long term problem with a—with a difficult well that was falling apart and that eventually went down and that was a—that was a good project. I enjoyed that. 
  •  Yeah, I th—I think you—I think some—some situations that have involved geology and that have been—where geology has certainly played a role in the outcome of the project have been very, very interesting and—and you kind of have a temporary defeat if someone gets a permit but you know geology being what it is things are going to come around. 
  •  DT:Can you look at some of the older sites, in particular the Superfund sites that are just in the Houston area and tell us if there's something you can divine from the way those failed and what that teaches you about how future waste sites should be done better? 
  •  HC:Well, I would say that Superfund sites or sites that—that deserved to be Superfund sites probably can serve as examples of—of things not to do and in—in lessons learned I mean one is don't dispose of liquids in permeable environments but that—I—I feel that lesson has been learned. 
  •  Another—another end of that is that—probably more than one way of looking at it but another end of that is that a goal these days is that hazardous waste is so expensive to dispose of and perhaps could be more valuable that one reasonable goal is to figure out ways to use hazardous waste rather than make it—than have to get rid of it and put it in an environment where—where it's going to be around a while. 
  •  Then in between there's a—there's the problem of—of definings—redefining something now as actually non-hazardous rather than—than hazardous and so getting it off the list in that way. And that's a—that's a political operation and—and a vast amount of waste that is called non-hazardous is disposed of on site by—by companies that generate that waste. 
  •  I think that's the problem that's—that we're going to be looking at in the future. Where that—that is—if you're over in the non-hazardous area in Texas you're simply into registration and not any kind of formal application and only guidelines for record keeping and studies. 
  •  DT:Can you give us some examples of the kind of risks that you see there? 
  •  HC:Well, I think the same risks we've been talking about throughout this—this discussion and that is in Houston, Texas, which is a chemically active—you know, a lot of people do lots of things with chemicals around here and they have to dispose of their waste and we're very close to sea level and we're in a pretty wet environment and so that kind of thing sponsors the—the same leak situation that we've been talking about for all of these other—well, projects. 
  •  DT:Do you think there's any argument to be made for what's happened in Midlothian where they're incinerating it and everybody within the air shed shares the toxicity, shares the risk? 
  •  HC:And? 
  •  DT:And so it's not disproportionate on one less powerful neighborhood. 
  •  HC:It's on a whole valley full of—of—of folks that can't, you know, that haven't been able to do that much to fight it. Now if it were—if it were north of Houston then—then that would be a real, you know, you've broadened the plume and as you broaden the plume you broaden the base of people in affect. 
  •  So in that way air—air situations although more difficult to measure are—are more invasive than the geology situation. You know one of the things that's bothered me about—no it hadn't bothered me, but when you talk about a landfill or—or something like that where waste goes down and gets in the ground water a lot of that water is not water that people are going to drink anyway. 
  •  A lot of it is, but a lot of it is not, so in some ways, you know, I've had some questions about well, how important is the work that we're doing? On the other hand, if you think of that water as simply the sensing element, the—the way to tell if that water is contaminated that means that what you have created has failed and so it's a failure sensing mechanism. And in the case of air the damage is—is quite likely already done by the time, you know, you have a—an air situation that exists for years and years. 
  •  DT:So it's like a design failure? 
  •  HC:Right. 
  •  DT:In recent years you have picked up where you left off years ago as a child working on the farm and here you are back spending a good deal of time working with cattle and land. Can you tell us about that experience? 
  •  HC:Well, I—I—I think it was a goal for a long time to get a farm and—and I got one and it's probably bigger than it should be but it—it's big enough to keep me occupied and—and it—I—I find that I probably am learning more now than—than ever not—not just about geology and stuff, but you know the—the daily appreciation or the seasonal appreciation or the year end year out cyclic appreciation of things that go on around you up there. 
  •  And—and—and I don't know that I made a big dent on—I've taken—I've taken what—when I bought it was farmed land and I tried that for a little while and that didn't work. If you can't be on the clay land at the right time to plow then you're not going to get anything out of it and we don't have that much rain, so you've got to be dependent on the—on the comings and goings of the natural system and—and—or as much as you can enhance the natural system. 
  •  And so I, you know, I found that just fascinating trying new grasses, trying—trying to move cows at just the right time so the grasses keep going and adding clover and adding vetch, adding—adding that kind of fertilizer rather than chemical fertilizer and—and being able to spend evenings and mornings there, you know, when you're listening to stuff going on and coyotes coming and going. 
  •  And—and I've got a vulture that sits outside these days on the porch rail and kind of looks at me like he's very interested in what I'm doing and—and what my pulse rate is and—and—but the, you know, the place is—well, if you stop and look at any place look at my front yard. The place is full of animals and—and—and things that happen seasonally and daily and that—that I find a great fascination with. And I—and the farm has been great. I—I had my son and—and other kids help build a cabin there and some day I'll get electricity but its been 84 s—yeah, bought it in 1984 and—and it becomes more interesting each time I go up there. 
  •  DT:Is it a joy to you? 
  •  HC:Yeah, I think—I think it's a joy. I—I mean I've got a hundred pets. Every cow has a—has a personality and—and some are more fun than others. And going around and looking at—at things that have happened and just kind of moving over the place and seeing that things are working or things are not working. And you know when I think I can get rid of mesquite I think I'm really sharp and then the same mesquite comes back the next year and—and you realize that you're not as sharp as you think you are. So—so it's—it's—yeah, it's both a joy and it's—it's pretty humbling too but that's—but that—that's what makes it great. 
  •  DT:Is there anything that you're doing on your farm that you'd want to pass on to people who might see this tape? 
  •  HC:Well, I hope—I hope—I hope everybody—well, I—I hope more people have the opportunity to—or have the time, you know, take the time to go and look at some—some piece of land whether it's theirs or—or something else, but I mean there's a great joy of just kind of riding with the land and seeing what's—what's going on with it and—and looking at all the different things that happen to it and then happen to you as a result of it. And I—I've had a great time taking kids and grandkids up there and watching them find the same thing. I mean they may not see it the way you see it at this time, but they will and they—they see a lot of things. 
  •  DT:Tell us about one of those visits with one of your grandchildren and what they taught you. 
  •  HC:Well, they taught me a lot but—but, you know, you go up there and you take them and they stumble out of the truck and take off running and you don't see them for the rest of the day and they're—they're grabbing your fishing pole and they'll be absolutely delighted out of their mind catching a fish that's three inches long and stuff that they won't have a chance to see it and they, you know, you dig up some— 
  •  some clover and show them the la—legume fixing bacteria pods on the clover and they go wow that—and the next thing you know they've gathered up a whole bucket of clover and fossils and—and stuff like that. And one time I was up there with—with my granddaughter I guess several times and I said, before we were going to sleep, I said I sure thank you for coming up here with me buddy and she said, oh, it's fun. That's pretty good. 
  •  DT:Is there anything you'd like to add? 
  •  HC:Huh? 
  •  DT:Is there anything you'd like to add? 
  •  HC:No, well no, not that—I can't think of anything unless you've got something on one of your questions there that you want to go back and fill in. 
  •  DT:Not me, no. 
  •  HC:Okay.  
  •  DT:I think we're done. 
  •  HC:Got any more questions over there? 
  •  Crew member:Regarding the faults in the Yucca Mountain, should we go ahead with this thing? 
  •  HC:I've got some real questions about it because on the one hand they—they have studied the thing, you know, it started out as being something that was, boy, it was a solid massive rock and then—well, they found the faults. Well, of course, there are faults everywhere and then they found the bomb pulse chlorine 36 from the nuclear testing in the Pacific and they found that when they opened up the tunnel. 
  •  And that meant that there are fast pathways for fluid to get a thousand feet down into where they're going to bury this stuff. That presents questions, but—but a—a big reason for continuing the process is they say it's almost advocacy. We've come this far. We've gathered—look at all the information we've gathered. Well, the information that's been gathered presents more questions than it answers. 
  •  And so they have moved now to the situation not being a geologic repository, it's not going—the—the main confidence will come from how much confidence they can put into these canisters that are supposed to hold the stuff for ten thousand plus years because the—the route that the radionucleides will take when they come out of the canisters is pretty much a straight shot down to the valley. 
  •  And it—and it will move very quickly and so the protection is—is now an engineered protection and we've been talking all afternoon about the—the concept of geologic protection and geologic protection is something you can see and know and—and I don't have that much—I don't have as much confidence in engineered human developed safeguards. 
  •  DT:(Inaudible) 
  •  HC:Yes it is. Well, and I try to—to not, you know, create any answer to these questions before you got here because I try to be more… 
  •  DT:(Inaudible) 
  •  HC:… well, of course and you brought up more questions and, you know, lots of times if you're—if you think about something like this you're going to answer some ones question—you're going to answer a question, not necessarily the one that you just got asked. 
  •  DT:Yeah. Well I appreciate you thinking about this stuff and it's funny. Sometimes you interview people and you know you're getting the stock answer and with you I think you can always tell you're thinking about it. 
  •  HC:Pretty confused, yeah. 
  •  DT:I appreciate you giving me the time to think through it. 
  •  End of reel 2272. End of interview with H.C. Clark. 
Mark Video Segment:
[Hide]Copy and paste this link to an email or instant message.
[Hide]Right click this link and add to bookmarks


Title:H.C. Clark Interview, Part 2 of 2
Country:United States
CreatorClark, H.C. (interviewee)
Todd, David (interviewer)
Weisman, David (cameraman)
Acevedo, Eric (light and sound technician)
Balog, Melissa (transcriber)
Johnson, Robin (transcriber)
Source:Conservation History Association of Texas, Texas Legacy Project Records
Contributor:Beauchemin, Kristi (indexer, transcript synchronizer)
PublisherDolph Briscoe Center for American History
Rights:Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
Original Format:Mini-DV