- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 18, 2004

DDT toxic?

Your article on calls for reintroducing the use of DDT (“Use of DDT urged in malaria fight,” World, Thursday) is laudable but gets the bird toxicity wrong. Many bird species have been tested for DDT toxicity, and no such toxicities have been observed. The eggshell-thinning process also is a long-standing myth that doesn’t withstand scrutiny.

I cite as references the last 300 pages of George Claus and Karen Bolander’s “Ecological Sanity” and many of the writings of J. Gordon Edwards, the recently deceased professor of entomology at the University of California at San Jose.

There are many ways to cause eggshell thinning without DDT — and birds have been found capable of living and reproducing with high body burdens of the pesticide. Furthermore, the chemist Gordon Gribble has identified more than 3,000 organohalides that occur naturally in the environment. One would need to explain why these are assumed harmless after avian ingestion.

MICHAEL R. FOX

Richland, Wash.

Yucca waste, con’t.

Regarding the letter from Nevada Attorney General Brian Sandoval on the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository (Wednesday), here are a few observations.

In 1982, Congress addressed the issue of nuclear-waste disposal and began the process of developing a national solution, the determination of which was that the waste should be buried in a repository at a selected, suitable site. Initially, three sites were examined, and in 1987, Yucca Mountain in Nevada was selected as the site to be used. Understandably, Nevada was opposed to this selection.

Consequently, over the years, officials from Nevada have tried to throw roadblocks in the way of the Yucca Mountain program through litigation, legislation, lobbying, etc. All of these efforts have been to no avail, as the program has continued forward through four presidents and 11 Congresses.

Unfortunately, probably from frustration, officials from Nevada have resorted to inflammatory rhetoric, scare tactics and demagoguery in expressing their continuing opposition to the site. Mr. Sandoval’s remark that a leak would “kill only Nevadans” is a typical example. It seems that anyone who takes an opposing view is portrayed as a lackey of the nuclear industry or someone who wants a “political” solution unrelated to science.

The next significant step in the Yucca Mountain program is the license-application process, in which the specific science of the program is presented to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for evaluation and approval.

Contrary to Nevada’s claims, the science that supports Yucca Mountain can fill the shelves of a small-town library. Analyses and study in the areas of geology, hydrology, nuclear safety, environmental science, chemistry, mining, engineering and materials constitute the scientific content upon which the NRC is to make its licensing decision.

If the NRC sustains the Yucca site, we surely can count on witnessing many more instances of political posturing and irresponsible language. It’s nothing new for politicos to take an issue of national importance and subvert it into an irrationality that is impenetrable to both reasonable discussion and informed debate.

JOSEPH A. COLASURDO

Sterling, Va.

Nickeled-and-dimed

Nowhere can I find what it cost American taxpayers to redesign the nickel with not one design, but two (“Jefferson gets image overhaul on nickels,” Business, Tuesday).

What is wrong with Washington to allow such a waste of money when Americans need so much more than a new nickel? Our leaders and elected officials should be embarrassed. We have a huge deficit. It is time for these porkers in Washington to change.

SHIRLEY ARABIA

West Chester, Pa.

Russia’s terror — and ours?

William Rusher’s Thursday column, “School terror here?” (Commentary, Thursday) raises a question Americans haven’t squarely faced: What could we realistically do about a terror threat like the recent school catastrophe in Russia?

Mr. Rusher says that “a readiness to commit suicide, unquestionably, gives tactical advantages to an attacker.” He goes on to admit, “We cannot possibly eliminate all such foes, but we can and must resist them.”

He’s right, but how do we resist them? Let’s face it: Such an attack could never be prevented or pre-empted with 100 percent certainty. Any combination of federal, state and local governments that could prevent attacks on our children with certainty while simultaneously preventing attacks to all our other critical areas would have to add up to a smothering police state.

Now, what if such an attack did occur, with armed terrorists taking over a school by force, and the incident ended up with hundreds of children shot or blown up? Further, let us posit that a small group of teachers, led by some courageous individual, realized that hundreds were about to die and fought back with all their might using books, food trays and anything they could get. Sound familiar? Of course, they would be unable to alter the end result in any significant way, but the media would be hailing them as great American heroes.

Instead of such hollow accolades, maybe we should consider arming our society so we can shoot and kill those terrorists before they invade our schools, fortify their defenses and arm their bombs.

If a few of those Russian teachers had been armed, I daresay things might have turned out differently. Indeed, they scarcely could have turned out worse. It’s too late to save those Russian children, but it isn’t too late for ours.

After all, as letter writer Mary T. Shaw says in the same edition, “It’s never too late to act for the public good” (“The assault-weapons ban”). Of course, what Miss Shaw doesn’t understand is that the public simply cannot sit around and hope the state will protect our schools and children by banning guns. That will never — repeat, never — work.

We have to protect ourselves, as armed citizens, the way the founders intended. We can write all the articles, form all the commissions and make the government as big as we want, but it can never be everywhere. Nor should we want it to be.

THOMAS H. DESABLA

Silver Spring

The water bill

Thank you for Tom Knott’s informative article on D.C. residents’ water woes (“Challenge to D.C. water bill a costly ordeal,” Metro, Sept. 9).

At my residence in Arlington, we discovered that our plumber had forgotten to adjust the overflow in our new toilet. Months later, we discovered that our water bills, too, had gone up.

The Arlington water service told us how to test the toilet and sent someone to check our supply lines for leakage. Within a week of our call, it forgave half of the excess on our water bill (for a leak that, strictly speaking, was our responsibility) as a courtesy. It said it would do this once in a five-year period. We promptly got a check for more than $66.

I think you can see why we chose not to relocate to the District when we moved a couple of years ago.

WILLIAM R. STEWART

Arlington

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