Moving nuclear waste to Nevada is preferred over local...


February 19, 2002

Moving nuclear waste to Nevada is preferred over local stockpiling

I applaud the public interest in shedding as much light as possible on the plan to transport spent fuel from nuclear power plants to Yucca Mountain, the designated site of an underground repository in Nevada to hold high-level nuclear waste ("Radioactive wastes: the risks on the rails," Feb. 11).

And certainly any shipments of nuclear waste by train or truck must scrupulously conform to rigorous standards established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

However, it would be tragic if we lost sight of the fact that some critics of the plan have a vested interest in preventing a solution.

For instance, the Nevada state government retained a consulting firm with a long history of studies critical of the nuclear industry to prepare a report, and it claims a catastrophe would occur if a train carrying spent fuel were caught in an event such as the Baltimore rail-tunnel fire.

Never mind that railroad casks for spent fuel weigh up to 120 tons and have been tested by, among other things, being exposed to extremely hot fire for prolonged periods. The casks have not failed.

In the end, the judgment has to be whether the potential downsides of transporting spent fuel for disposal in a geologic repository in the Nevada desert outweigh those of storing the waste indefinitely in scores of de facto repositories at nuclear power plants around the country.

Spent fuel has been accumulating at Calvert Cliffs and other commercial reactors for many years, forcing many of them to build concrete silos outside the plants to house the overflow.

While not an immediate safety hazard, this is not a responsible way to deal with this material.

Gordon Chipman


The writer is a former assistant secretary for nuclear reactor programs at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Once again, fearmongers are attempting to arrest nuclear power development by frightening the public with a ridiculously improbable scenario.

The reality is that no railroad would ever attempt to handle such nuclear waste in any manner except as a heavily monitored special shipment.

The chances of nuclear waste being handled in the same train as flammable goods or other hazardous goods, or even of passing a train with such material in a tunnel, are about the same as a nuclear waste truck being substituted for a school bus to haul children to school.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV

Glen Burnie

Palestinians' attack on court shows they're out of control

The article "Palestinians storm Arab court" (Feb. 6) tempers the vicious, cold-blooded murder of two teen-agers and a young adult who had hidden in the bathroom for protection.

But an enraged mob, dissatisfied with the sentence given to mere teen-agers by the judge, took matters into its own hands. Apparently, mob rule is permitted under Yasser Arafat's dictatorship.

After the repulsive cold-blooded murders, Palestinians proudly dragged bodies through the streets and celebrated the murders by shooting into the air.

Imagine the mothers' pain witnessing their sons' bodies displayed as trophies.

This is more than Palestinians storming an Arab court. This is mayhem and barbarism by a people out of control.

Ruth Goetz


UM should review policies on student alcohol abuse

I read with sadness about Daniel Reardon's death from alcohol poisoning ("Family of UM student to remove life support," Feb. 13). As I read further, my sadness was shadowed by outrage.

Mr. Reardon was trying to be accepted into a fraternity because he had been expelled from his dormitory for possession of marijuana. I'd like the University of Maryland to go back through its records and compare how many students have died from alcohol (too many) with how many have died from marijuana (none).

Maybe the university should re-evaluate its policies to reflect which [substance] is the more dangerous drug.

Rosie Behr


Standards for school honors aren't high as they once were

I was quite surprised to learn that students with a 75 average are eligible for an honors program ("Officials still want downtown high school," Feb. 12). When I was in school, a student with a 75 average was in grave danger of failing.

The situation in the schools must be worse than we thought.

Elizabeth Lombardi


Our Daily Bread's banquet deserved praise, not criticism

I take exception to the letter "Soup kitchen's fund-raiser should raise some eyebrows" (Feb. 10).

There is a time to work and a time to celebrate. And everything for that event was donated: the food, the wait staff, the chef, the kitchen help, the auction items, the wine, the artwork.

Many in attendance were regular volunteers at Our Daily Bread, and have been for years. And through that dinner we are able to tell others of the untiring service we provide each day to those in need, and to raise money while we tell that story.

We are most cognizant of the needs of others. We do what we can to serve those who need help.

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