Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Article excerpt

Gauging effectiveness of nuclear-waste containment

Your June 30 article "Asia hungry for nuclear power" recognized the major increase in greenhouse-gas emissions and global warming that would accompany the use of carbon-based fuels to meet growing global energy demand and highlighted broad worldwide interest in the nuclear alternative. It heralded nuclear energy as a "clean" energy alternative, even while noting three areas of concern: operating plants safely, preventing nuclear-weapons proliferation, and dealing with nuclear waste.

The first two issues are major concerns in their own right. But making only a passing reference to the nuclear waste that's being generated at an increasing rate - and that will have to be safely disposed of and monitored for thousands of years - biases the argument in favor of the nuclear option.

If countries have solutions to the serious issue of waste disposal, these must be reviewed. If no solutions have yet appeared on the horizon - which seems to be the case - isn't the Monitor doing a disservice by extolling the virtues of a "clean" nuclear option while relegating the issue of the disposal of the pernicious and persistent radioactive castoffs of this technology to a mere footnote? Allen Inversin Riverdale, Md.

Asian nations have avoided making nuclear power a symbol of ideology and are moving forward with what they see as an important and safe addition to their energy resources. They wisely do not perceive the linking of nuclear power to problems with uranium and plutonium stockpiles. In fact, the vast majority of this material was produced for military programs, particularly in the former Soviet Union - a group of nations that now collectively have the largest stockpiles of nuclear-weapons materials in the world.

The "mountain of radioactive waste" that your article refers to is dwarfed by the billions of tons of hazardous waste released into the environment each year from use of fossil fuels. Unlike nuclear wastes, these are not contained at all. All technologies are advanced by learning from past mistakes and applying this knowledge to reduce future risks. …

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