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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