Nuclear Waste 'Roadshow' Brings Clean Air

Karen Charman's opinion article "Nuclear Waste Roadshow May Yet Come to Town" (June 5) underscores the need for Congress to step in and pass legislation that provides a safe, integrated system for managing used fuel from the nation's nuclear power plants.

Despite Charman's one-sided examination of the issue, she raises a number of points that are the basis for the broad bipartisan support among local, state and federal officials, consumer groups, business and labor organizations, and others for new direction in the US Department of Energy's nuclear waste disposal program.

In fact, 60 states and state agencies are suing the federal government because the Energy Department has not begun accepting used fuel from nuclear power plants this year as required under a 1982 law.

Charman incorrectly stated that taxpayers would assume the cost of this program, but the reality is that consumers of electricity from more than 100 nuclear power plants across America have committed more than $14 billion to fund this federal program. Future fees from electricity consumers will be adequate to cover the total cost of the program, according to government analysis, but only if Congress steps in to reform the program and develops a central storage facility.

Used nuclear fuel can be shipped to this storage facility safely. Nearly 3,000 shipments of used fuel already have traveled America's railways and highways without any release of radioactive materials. Fuel is shipped in protective steel containers that have been designed to withstand the most catastrophic accident scenarios, and will be transported on routes that avoid population centers.

Nuclear power provides 20 percent of our electricity, and according to a recent Energy Department report, "the continued safe and economic operation of the nation's nuclear power plants is essential in meeting the president's goals set forth in the administration's Climate Change Initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

If the administration is serious about it's commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, it must also honor its legal commitment to consumers to safely manage used fuel from those facilities which will help President Clinton achieve the nation's clean air goals.

Angelina S. Howard

Washington, D.C.

Senior Vice President

Nuclear Energy Institute

Kosovo remedy: Deploy NATO forces

The actions suggested by David Phillips in his opinion article "Serbian Aggression - Again" (June 9), to halt the Serbian onslaught in Kosovo would be too little, too late.

Tougher sanctions than those Phillips proposes did not alter Milosevic's behavior through four years of war in Croatia and Bosnia; they will not on this occasion either.

The suggestion of deploying NATO forces along the periphery of Kosovo, in Albania and Macedonia, is one that would aid and abet Serbia's offensive against the Kosovar Albanians. Only the direct application of force - air power, at least initially - will bring an end to the carnage in Kosovo. The US, as leader of NATO, will have to lead any such operations. Though UN Security Council authorization is desirable, it is by no means necessary - or likely. Russia and China are both likely to wield their vetoes.

Until the divided and rudderless Clinton administration leads forcefully and intervenes in Kosovo in the immediate future, it is highly likely that the "nightmare scenarios" of a wider Balkan war will come to pass, bearing even tougher choices and higher costs than the ones we face at present.

Kurt Bassuener

Washington, D.C.

Policy analyst, The Balkan Institute

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