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Letters

Nuke World Order It’s hard to find the truth when half the people you talk to lie to you, and three quarters of those who don’t, don’t know what they are talking about [“Green to the Core?: How I Tried To Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Power,” November 11–17]. Lewis has exposed a lot of people on both sides of the debate for being ignorant or even foolish. Also, Lewis has exposed the fact that the nuclear issue is both vital and enormously complicated. Dr. Caldicott’s worries about strontium-90 around Three Mile Island are well-founded, and those who call her nutty are wrong. Estimates of the amount of radioactive fission products lost during the Three Mile Island accident vary from zero (among the most rabid pro-nukers), to “lots” (among the least precise guesstimators). Tens of millions of curies is probably not an unreasonable estimate, since needles pegged themselves on high values on numerous recording devices, other equipment failed to record information, and still other, functional, equipment was simply unchecked in the mayhem. Even the new BEIR VII report — the nuclear industry’s standard on radiation’s health effects — admits that there is no minimum [harmful] dose of radiation. So to claim that the [Three Mile Island accident] didn’t kill anyone is absurd. It did, and is, and it will keep on, killing people. And let’s look at Chernobyl, and the zoological nightmare that surrounds it. Lewis’s cryptic closing comment hints at the truth, but any suggestion that everything is all right in the exclusion zone ignores the deformities, the extremely odd types of chromosomal damage among the animal populations (not just the amount of it), the odd birth and death rates, the strange and freakish, and the carcasses of deformed chicks which the mother birds toss out of the nest. If you ignore all that and more, and don’t let humans in there to become cancerous or have deformed babies of their own, the area around Chernobyl looks good. Yet most of the radiation has spread globally. Stewart Brand’s claim that Chernobyl was a local event is ludicrous. He should recall that Chernobyl was first detected hundreds of miles away, from Kiev (in Scandinavia), and bans on various foods were implemented all around the world. Terrorism — an Achilles’ heel of nuclear power — was practically completely ignored in Lewis’s article. Every step is vulnerable, especially the transfer steps and the steps involving fuel which has been recently removed from the reactor. The waste problem is not solved by Yucca Mountain, stiffly opposed by nearly everybody in Nevada — or by the “Private Fuel Storage” facility being ramrodded down Utah’s throat. Both are complete technological nightmares with high risks of catastrophic failures at every step. Coal — even Bush’s “clean coal technology,” which Lewis’s article did not touch on — is not the answer. Indeed, why is nuclear energy always compared to coal, when the fact is, we can abandon the nuclear-power plants and replace them with a mix of 10 or 20 truly clean energy solutions? California need not ever open another coal plant. All we have to do is choose which alternative energy solutions we as a society actually prefer — a little government investment would go a long way, along with state and local governments and private citizens and corporations refusing to buy electricity from nuclear-sourced producers. But renewables can’t compete with a highly subsidized (to the tune of trillions of dollars) and poorly regulated industry which foists most of its cost onto babies with leukemia. Nuclear power is dangerous, dirty, and inefficient. It’s subsidized and secretive, undemocratic and unwanted. Continuing to allow it in California is suicidal.

Russell Hoffman Carlsbad, CA

Ocean or Bust It is very bittersweet for me to see the L.A. Weekly finally getting onboard with supporting the extension of the subway westward under Wilshire Blvd. Bitter, because I remember the days when the L.A. Weekly was in agreement with the so-called “Bus Riders Union” that rail was “racist.” This politically motivated argument helped to make it “hip” to hate the subway, thus wasting precious time to get this project built. And I’m feelin’ mighty sweet these days to see that truth has triumphed and the subway is enjoying the “hipness” that it always deserved! Rail is not racist. Many times when I am riding the rails in L.A., I see many more people of color in the seats than suburban whites. I just hope that I live long enough to ride that first Aqua Line subway train to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

Tom Stanley Los Angeles


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