The Nuclear Needs of the United States

In the article "A Bad Bargain on Savannah River Nuke Site," Dec. 9, the author states that residents around the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site (SRS) have made a Faustian bargain with the devil, selling their souls in exchange for the economic development the site represents. He also asserts that the plant's K Reactor should not be restarted for tritium production. As one of those local residents, I beg to differ on both counts.

I'm not sure what makes the author an expert on the local people of Aiken County, but I am very familiar with the debate over whether the upgraded K Reactor, built 38 years ago to meet our nuclear arsenal's tritium needs, is needed.

While world peace, at least on the surface, seems near, we still live in a sometimes hostile world. I, for one, am not quite ready for unilateral disarmament. I don't suspect many other Americans are either. That doesn't mean we don't need to scale back our nuclear deterrent to meet changing conditions. We need to do that, and we are. But as we negotiate, we must bargain from a position of strength. Discarding a ready source of tritium would be a reckless gamble. It would severely weaken our position in these negotiations.

The Department of Energy and its contractor, Westinghouse, have worked very hard over the past three years to upgrade the K Reactor - and those entrusted to operate it. It's been a slow, expensive, and cautious process.

As a local resident familiar with many of the people involved, I know the care that has gone into restart. SRS technicians are taking the first tentative steps to bring the reactor into production.

Critics are quick to contend that the K Reactor is only a temporary solution to our tritium requirements. They're right.

However, a better source - the New Production Reactor - is at least a decade away. We've got to get there from here. J. Michael Hosang, Aiken, S.C. Chairman, Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness Examining health-care options

Regarding the editorial "Health-Care Politics," Feb. 13: The two biggest hurdles standing in the way of affordable universal health care are profit and privatization.

There is much money to be made in the developing and selling of disease-treating machines and medicines. It's not that profit is a bad thing, but rather that it does not motivate companies to aggressively market preventive medicines or attempt to sell a more holistic approach to life (which would cost patients much less). The belief that private industry can perform a task better than government also stands in the way of affordable health care.

Until these issues can be reconciled, health care will continue to be withheld from those who need it. Richard D. Soule, Vista, Calif.

In the discussion surrounding a national health system, no one seems to mention that many United States citizens neither need nor desire medical care.

The number seeking naturopathic, holistic, or alternative health systems grows daily. In addition, for over a century a large segment of our population has relied exclusively on a spiritual basis for health and well-being. In my personal experience, living on a remote farm, my family sought medical care only as a last resort and found it scarcely needed.

Will the resources used by private individuals be dictated by a national health system? Will citizens not using the system be required to pay for it? Will the freedom of personal choice undergirding our society be trespassed for the "good of the whole"? Marie Shih, Seattle

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