Atomic energy: Wake up

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Letter to the editor by Stan Magen

In view of Japan’s atomic catastrophe, we must evaluate our own policies in regard to energy sources. When this radiation threat is considered along with similar incidents around the world, it is time to realize that we are in a position of “clear and present” danger, a danger that is greater than ever before because of its magnitude and proximity to a large population. Another incident could be on par with an atomic bomb.

Another part of the problem is what to do with the seventy thousand tons of potential deadly waste material which still needs a better means of disposal. Who knows how much is stored around the world, and how much more will be added as new power plants are built? One plant generates 20 tons a year, and we have more than 100 plants, according to the Investors Business Daily of March 18 article enclosed. The problem is nobody wants the radioactive waste in their backyard because no matter how it is stored, the potential for leakage still exists. We know the activity lasts for thousands of years, but we don’t know how long it can be contained, or whether changes in geologic conditions may expedite exposure.

The U.S. intended Yucca Mountain in Nevada for storage, but it is too close to Las Vegas and in an area that is seismically active. In Europe, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the German Parliament to exit nuclear energy in favor of renewable types.

In view of many unknowns, this situation becomes a question of whether we have the right to expose future generations to our thoughtless waste. Can we in good conscience sustain these risks?

The only reasonable answer at this point is to eliminate atomic energy in favor of other sources whose efficiency can be improved. We can do it. We just need the will power.

Stan Magen