Depleted uranium is always dangerous and should be...


April 14, 2000

Depleted uranium is always dangerous and should be banned

Thanks to Carl Schoettler for his informative article "Battle over depleted-uranium arms" (Sun Journal, April 4). The caption on the accompanying photograph of a tank, however, was incorrect.

The Abrams tank is plated with depleted uranium, not because it's denser than lead, but because it's harder than steel. Lead is denser than steel, but no one would use such a soft metal for armor plate. Hardness is the governing factor.

The heavy weight of a uranium projectile, as well as its great hardness, causes it to penetrate just about any armor.

More important, Col. Eric G. Daxon's assertion that uranium is not dangerous after its dust settles is misleading, because the dust constantly blows around with the winds.

The lead poisoning of thousands of Baltimore children, for instance, has been attributed to the dust that blows off windowsills from worn sash paint.

Depleted-uranium is not only radioactive, but is a chemically toxic heavy metal similar to lead. It is unconscionable that the U.S. Army injects it into the environment, where it remains dangerous for thousands of years.

Lead shot has been outlawed in Maryland for good reason. Depleted uranium should be banned as an indiscriminate weapon whose victims will mainly be children and civilians.

Instead of jail time, Philip Berrigan and other protesters should be given an award for bringing this to public attention.

Richard Ochs


The writer is president of the Aberdeen Proving Ground Superfund Citizens Coalition.

Docking competition would help the harbor

Neither I nor other members of the maritime community perceive The Sun's alleged "editorial attack" on the Maryland docking pilots as anything other than factual reporting ("Who docks bay ships?" editorial March 30 and "Harbor ship pilots should be accountable to public regulators," letters, April 4).

For three years the docking pilots have attempted to legislate harbor pilots out of existence. The real issues are control and greed, not accountability and safety.

The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard holds harbor pilots accountable -- as do the towing companies that employ them -- by requiring them to hold U.S. Coast Guard licenses as a part of their employment commitment.

The Maryland Port Administration and the Coast Guard's port captain have publicly stated that we have a safe port.

The port of Baltimore must remain competitive to continue to grow and attract new customers. Increasing the control of a monopoly does not serve the port.

Do we really need $170,000 per year part-time pilots serving Maryland and the port of Baltimore?

Maybe it's time to legislate some competition in bay pilotage.

Paul P. Swensen


The writer is vice president of Moran Towing Corp.

Cuban militants set a bad example

As the daughter of immigrants, I've been deeply disturbed to see the U.S. justice system held hostage by a community of immigrants who came to these shores, as my parents did, for the freedoms our democracy grants us through laws.

Now they disagree with the laws that apply to their situation and have refused to cooperate with any ruling against them.

Despite their attempts to turn young Elian into a cause, he is still a little boy. He sees his family and friends, hundreds of them, flaunt their disrespect for the law.

They've not merely been protesting (a privilege our Constitution grants); they have promised to resist.

Now, in addition to indulging and exploiting him, his family in Miami is teaching Elian by example that our laws are unjust, that they do not apply to him and he need not comply with them.

How is this better than the life they are "saving" him from?

Elian must be returned to his surviving, loving parent.

Susan Sachs Fleishman


The behavior of the Cuban-American community in Miami troubles me and should alarm everyone ("Confrontation over Elian in Miami is delayed," March 31).

It is hazardous to turn a little boy into an icon of solidarity against Fidel Castro. And threatening civil disobedience, blockades, human chains and other reckless acts are anathema to most people.

By defying the laws, Cuban-American militants have put the general population at risk.

How many more hyphenated-Americans will follow "Little Havana's" example? In this age of "diversity-worship," I fear this will be a growing trend.

Roza Heid


West-side developers must heed city's needs

I am offended that The Sun believes that west side merchants, shoppers and preservationists are barriers to progress ("Time to get going on west side revival," editorial, April 2).

Why is it that people are expected to quietly make way for any plans which developers approve?

By walking around the west side and other historic areas of Baltimore, one can connect with the past. These areas have a character that is unmatched in any of Baltimore's mundane suburbs.

Furthermore, the west side is one of the city's few areas which is truly socially, racially and architecturally diverse.

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