Dismantling nukes - the options

Regarding the Opinion page article "Dismantling Nukes: as Serious a Task as Building Them," April 6: The author repeatedly quotes an anonymous Senate aide who is said to be "familiar with both the science and the politics of the debate" over plutonium storage, and raises specters over each suggested method of storage. However, storing plutonium in its present form can be done by encapsulating the material in a glassy form, and placing the blocks in deep salt caverns. The untreated material could also be buried under tectonic plates.

The author suggests that the plates might shift and reexpose it. Certainly the plates could shift into reverse; Richter-scale-20 earthquakes could rend the salt cavern; and massive flooding could leach the plutonium out of the glass.

And any of these vanishing-probability scenarios would also so devastate the Earth that little human life would be left to be affected.

The Senate aide is also quoted as saying that there are people in Texas walking around with plutonium in their bodies. Plutonium is a heavy metal like lead and arsenic, but much more poisonous. The only people with plutonium in their bodies are found in cemeteries, not "walking around." Robert B. Henn, Fort Washington, Pa.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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