Transit PlanningRegarding the plea by Martha Sweatman...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 09, 1992

Transit Planning

Regarding the plea by Martha Sweatman (letters, Nov. 28) for a light rail stop in Ruxton, I'm surprised that she doesn't know, as a resident, and that you didn't tell her to fulfill your responsibility to inform the public, that it was her neighbors who saw to it that no stop in Ruxton was planned and built.

They fought construction of the light rail line from day one. They don't mind the noisy, stinking diesel freight train clanking and tooting up that line every night in the wee hours, but the passing of silent, clean passenger cars was going to be objectionable to them before the first one even ran.

They didn't want a stop that would allow "undesirables" to penetrate their enclave either. This was a classic case where the well intentioned, but poorly written SEE (social, economic and environmental) impact laws have been more often used as a club to beat down progress than to facilitate the right decisions being made.

Transportation systems cannot logically be built to serve the public effectively, reduce air pollution, reduce the need for oil, etc. when they are forced to be built along the lines of least resistance -- not optimum usefulness.

Vernon Eddington's letter (below Ms. Sweatman's) takes to task the Metropolitan Transit Administration for service cuts and fare increases, when the problem of poor service is a direct function of where the lines can be built so as not to disturb some selfish group that thinks only of its own comfort and is unwilling to share in the non-monetary costs of creating a total transportation system that works for the environment and working people impartially -- all facets of a coordinated, prosperous and competitive metropolitan region.

Vernon Lentz

Timonium

Common Ground

Your Nov. 15 article about seeking a ''common-ground'' in the abortion war caused my wife and me to pay particular attention. How wonderful it would be if all of us could find a common ground upon which to build a true and satisfying perspective concerning abortion.

The thought of using a common ground approach in this matter is a new idea and rather unusual. It is not for everyone.

Wouldn't it be better if we all would calm down and work together so that our combined efforts would result in a wise and practical solution to the problem?

Thank you again for a very insightful article.

Paul L. Morrison Sr.

Baltimore

The Army's Incineration Methods

I offer a few clarifying comments on your Oct. 12 editorial, "Incinerating Chemical Weapons."

First, your editorial states that alternative technologies to incinerate "have been virtually ignored," and that "now the military must evaluate methods such as chemical or biological neutralization. . ." These statements are incorrect.

The Army has had over 20 years of experience in the destruction of chemical weapons and continuously has been committed to identifying, testing and using the safest, most effective methods for destroying this nation's chemical stockpile.

Chemical neutralization, used for several years by the Army during the 1970s, was discontinued after testing demonstrated that neutralization was not as efficient as incineration for destroying the chemical agent and resulted in more hazardous waste products which then required disposal in a landfill.

In 1981, the Army selected direct, high temperature incineration as the safest method to dispose of obsolete weapons. Today, 12 years later, high temperature, direct incineration remains the most proven process for destroying all components of our chemical weapons.

To date, the incineration process has destroyed millions of pounds of chemical agent safely without endangering workers, the population or the environment.

In 1984 and again in 1992, the prestigious National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences endorsed incineration as the safest and preferred method for destroying chemical agents and munitions.

Last year, despite these years of demonstrated effectiveness of incineration, the Army requested the NRC to again evaluate emerging technologies. At an open workshop, the NRC received ideas from the general public, environmental groups, process vendors and developers.

If a more environmentally sound disposal method which is as safe or safer than incineration and can be employed in a reasonable time frame can be identified, the incineration decision will be reassessed.

Second, our Johnson Atoll facility has been conducting its operational verification tests on various chemical agents and munitions using incineration since July 16, 1990.

To date, over 23,000 munitions/storage containers and over 329,000 pounds of agent have been destroyed. Trial burns at that facility have demonstrated safe and effective destruction of chemical agents.

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