The Ethics of Nuclear-Waste Disposal

Regarding the editorial "Energy and Nuclear Waste," Oct. 23: The Monitor seems to be trying very hard to take a balanced viewpoint on this issue. Unfortunately, being balanced does nothing more than legitimize an unethical position.

It would be unethical and illegal for me to run a dynamite factory in the middle of a residential neighborhood, regardless of how safely I operated the facility. Why then is it legal for a power company to do something that could poison several thousand neighborhoods? The reason that radioactive waste is being stored on a temporary basis and has been building up for the last 25 years at the plant site is that there is no place to put it. There is no such thing as an acceptable burial site for nuclear was te.

Regarding the proposed burial sites the editorial states: "... it seems reasonable to allow further tests in which small amounts of carefully packaged radioactive waste would be placed in these repositories." It sounds reasonable, but it isn't. The Yucca Mountain region in Nevada, which our government wants so badly to use as a nuclear-waste dump, rightfully belongs to the Shoshone people. They were forced off their homeland, even jailed for resisting their removal, so that we could blow up atomic bombs and dump nuclear waste on the land. These actions are outrageous, and by failing to condemn them we are allowing them to continue. Let's stop trying to be "reasonable" with immoral actions, and let's expose them for what they are. Joel Pierce, Monarch Beach, Calif. While the editorial on nuclear waste is most timely,much more needs to be said. Indeed the energy bill, as finalized, will not prompt sighs of relief among involved and informed people, as the editorial so well puts it. The measure is replete with costly concessions to such pressure groups as the environmental movement and is loaded with "pork" in the form of tax and other goodies to encourage production of alternative motor-vehicle fuels.

The editorial is accurate in observing that the radioactive-waste situation is perhaps the most pressing issue the energy bill addresses. Its history is one of political vacillation and timidity in the face of obstructionist tactics employed by environmentalists who are intent on keeping nuclear development halted by preventing the designation of any waste repository.

While the provision for simplified procedures for licensing nuclear reactors appears to be a favorable development, the virtually certain overall result of this legislative monstrosity will be greatly increased electricity costs to Americans and higher taxes levied to provide the "pork" to special-interest recipients. Earl Eigabroadt, Port Orchard, Wash.

I was a bit disgruntled after reading the Justice page article "Prison Education Rankles Critics," Oct. 13. I could have taken the route of gang activity and crime many of my classmates took out of high school in the Los Angeles County School District. Instead, I took the path to college. Now I have a $20,000 debt in student loans to pay for along with my degree. I tap into the same fund as prison inmates, federal Pell grants, to help finance my college education.

I receive just enough from this fund to cover the cost of my books, for which I am truly grateful. Yet why do those who commit crimes and go to prison receive the priceless gift of a fully financed, debt-free education? An education in order to obtain a high school diploma in our prisons is perfectly understandable; this is free to us all; but college level and graduate degrees? I think not; at least not on the tab of taxpayers. Amy Stacy, Durham, N.H.

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