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Environmentalists Show Concern Over Nuclear Waste

The two articles, ``Nuclear Power Draws New Interest'' and ``Reactor Design Aims for Safety,'' Nov. 28, purport to consider environmental objections to new reactor technology. But the chief objection to nuclear power is never addressed: What can be done with the waste? Nuclear energy advocates promise safe waste disposal, and the Department of Energy plans to open its first waste disposal site in 2010. Given that the site chosen in Nevada is the subject of both scientific and political controversy, one must suspect the likelihood of the plan.

When the nuclear industry has safely hauled the thousands of tons of nuclear garbage it has created into secure, permanent storage, I will be ready to listen to claims of improved nuclear technology. Until that time comes, wind and solar technology, combined with conservation, are more realistic means of meeting energy needs without exacerbating the greenhouse effect. Mark C. Davis, Carlton, Ore.

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It is ironic that in an era when environmentalists are urging reduction and elimination of toxic substances, the nuclear industry would advocate creating ever greater amounts of toxic radioactive waste under the guise of environmentalism. The best nuclear reactors are hardly environmentally benign, and any gains against the greenhouse effect and ozone depletion will be offset by the proliferation of nuclear waste. Fortunately, there are alternatives to both nuclear power and fossil fuels. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory estimates, for example, that simply making a switch to more efficient lighting would save up to 40,000 megawatts per year. Each dollar spent on energy efficiency reduces far more greenhouse gases than a dollar spent on nuclear power. Given our limited federal budget, the only effect of embarking on costly new nuclear research and construction would be to delay implementation of those technologies that already have proven environmentally safe. Michael Mariotte, Washington, Nuclear Information and Resource Service

While Modular Nuclear Reactors offer a safer type of nuclear reactor while operating, is the waste produced any safer? A legacy of toxic waste which will last 250,000 years is not something we can ethically accept as a society. Michael Collins, Dix Hills, N.Y.

Provoking violence The editorial ``El Salvador's Only Option,'' Nov. 16, argues that the Cuban ``arms flow to the FMLN must cease.'' Not a word is written about the enormous arms flow from the United States to the other side of conflict.

In spite of the ongoing violence and bloodshed, the US recently voted to send more arms to El Salvador. We have been through the arms race, where weapon advances on one side only provoke similar advances by the other side. There are so much evidence in the world that violence provokes violence. Recent developments in Eastern Europe have confirmed that communism does not produce economically viable states. What has the US government to fear if it cuts off further shipments of arms? Bilateral arms cuts would force the two sides to negotiate.

The money saved could go to the many non-governmental organizations with programs in Central America for development projects there. If everyone had food, clean water, and schooling, there would be no rebels. Diana M. Spears, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

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