Regarding “Nuclear Waste” (editorial, Jan. 5):
What follows is from the book “Aftermath” by Donovan Webster, published by Pantheon Books in 1996:
“Around the U.S. Department of Energy, they call it the `Physics Problem.’ These days, if one subject has the DOE’s concentrations focused it is this: In places where plutonium and some forms of radioactive waste have been used or are being stored, it will take 12,000 years before the stuff is no longer dangerous. `There’s no way to speed up the decay,’ says James D. Werner, director of the DOE’s Environmental Manager’s Office of Strategic Planning and Analysis. `That’s an immutable law …”
Werner is the first DOE officer charged with making right a half-century of atomic environmental damage. `You have to understand with this stuff, there’s no such thing as cleaning up,’ he says. `You have to understand with this stuff, there’s no such thing as cleaning up,’ he says. `Radioactivity is an unfixable problem’ (emphasis in book).”
It would be well to keep in mind another immutable law: 10 pounds of plutonium coming together in a confined space is critical mass, the bomb without its bang.
I have no feeling that those who decided on Yucca Mountain for use as a radioactive waste repository understand the true dimensions of the problem.
Not since the days of Marshall Stone has your newspaper made any real effort to educate its readers as to the realities of nuclear waste. It is not about time; it is not about money. It is about survival. Louise S. Weiss Friendship