- The Washington Times - Friday, March 1, 2002

Enough with anonymous ads attacking Greece

Twice in the past several weeks, The Washington Times has published paid advertisements in its Op-Ed pages, which, with their scurrilous and deceitful content made even more misleading by the sensationalist typography have made damaging accusations against Greece.

We reject the anonymous accusations of these advertisements that Greece is failing to combat terrorism and is even "sponsoring" terrorism. This is a campaign which, for reasons of their own, a few American critics have pursued publicly. Their criticisms have been responsibly answered by Greece and by high-level American officials who have publicly welcomed Greece's intensive and cooperative efforts in the war against terrorism. These efforts include close working relationships with the FBI and Scotland Yard.

We have no complaint with the publication of criticism from named individuals or from recognized organizations with a known agenda. Our complaint here is with the decision of a newspaper to publish the false and damaging slurs of unknown persons who identify themselves anonymously as, in one instance, "Greek Americans Against Terrorism" and, in another, as "A Concerned Greek American."

By hiding behind such signatures, any person, organization or even government seeking for whatever reason to inflict damage on Greece can pursue their misinformation without fear of being identified or of being responsibly answered.

Even if freedom of the press allows, but does not require, newspapers to publish such advertisements, it is our strong belief that the publication of such anonymous materials is not in the best interest of your newspaper, its readers or journalism itself.


ALEXANDER PHILON

Ambassador

Embassy of Greece

Washington

A 'Hispanic Quebec' in the U.S.?

In dismissing the possibility of a Mexican "reconquista" of the southwestern portion of the United States as "quite comical," letter writer Eli Hammerman overlooks a more realistic threat ("U.S.-Mexican 'border war' imminent or inane?" Feb. 27).

While it is unlikely that California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and the southern half of Colorado will one day secede to form a "Republica del Norte," as suggested by certain radical Hispanic leaders, we should not ignore the fears held by former Colorado Gov. Richard D. Lamm, who believes that, because of an exploding Hispanic population in that area, there is the distinct possibility that one day we will have to deal with a "Hispanic Quebec."


DAVID A. GORAK

Executive director

Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration

Lombard, Ill.

Right NIMBY, wrong back yard

What's wrong with this picture? The commercial nuclear power industry is enlisting the full force and strength of the federal government to remove spent nuclear reactor fuel from the "back yards" of its nuclear power plants, yet it is the state of Nevada that Commentary columnist Charles Rousseaux accuses of "NIMBYism" for opposing the dumping of this dangerous and long-lived waste in a site that is geologically and environmentally unsound ("Nuclear waste parochialism," Feb. 26).

Mr. Rousseaux is right about one thing. The NIMBY (not-in-my-back yard) syndrome is certainly alive and well in this country, when it comes to spent nuclear fuel, but it's not Nevada where it is being manifested most dramatically.

Rather, the real NIMBY nightmare is coming from the nuclear power industry and its single-minded determination to relieve itself of the economic burden posed by radioactive waste at power generation sites around the country, regardless of the damage done to any other state or to the nation as a whole.

Mr. Rousseaux argues that it is safer to move spent fuel from current storage locations adjacent to nuclear power reactors and transport it throughout the country to a single disposal site. This argument sounds logical on the surface until, that is, you examine it more closely.

Nuclear-generating facilities are among the safest and most secure commercial sites in the country. The waste stored at these locations is about as safe as anything can be in today's world. It is certainly many times safer than it would be if the deadly material is put on tens of thousands of trucks and trains and transported through hundreds of the country's most densely populated metropolitan areas.

Such shipments pose a significantly greater terrorism risk than current spent-fuel storage facilities do.

As safe as spent-fuel storage currently is at nuclear-generating facilities, it is being made even more secure in the wake of September 11. Steps are already under way to further reinforce nuclear power stations and even protect them using the U.S. military. Safeguarding such highly secure fixed facilities is infinitely easier than protecting thousands of mobile targets within major urban areas.

Even if it were possible to move all existing spent fuel immediately to one remote location (which it is not: Once such a facility is available, it will still take almost 40 years to get all of the waste there), nuclear power plants will continue to have spent fuel stored on site. As long as the reactors operate, the need for spent fuel storage will persist that's just a fact of nuclear life.

The need for some ultimate disposal solution to the problem of spent nuclear fuel is something everyone agrees upon. Mr. Rousseaux, however, is wrong when he asserts that Nevada's Yucca Mountain is the best place or even a safe place for such a disposal site.

Far from being geologically stable, as Mr. Rousseaux contends, Yucca Mountain is in a geologically active area, where earthquakes are a common occurrence, the threat of renewed volcanic activity persists, and the subsurface is so fractured and porous that it affords almost no protection against a release of deadly radioactive materials to the environment. The Energy Department's own calculations show that the geology of the site accounts for less than 2 percent of the proposed facility's waste isolation capability. So much for "geologic disposal."

To compensate for the site's flaws, the Energy Department is proposing a whole array of exotic and improbable engineering "fixes," including disposal containers that must last between 11,000 and 500,000 years. The fact that the material proposed for use in constructing these miracle containers began to corrode seriously in less than six months when tested by state of Nevada scientists does not provide a great degree of confidence in the Department of Energy's assurances about the facility.

Mr. Rousseaux's specious argument that it is somehow permissible to visit increased radiation exposures on Nevadans (as opposed, presumably, to people in other states) because Nevada already has a high incidence of cancer from the state's "smoke-filled casinos and sun-filled skies" is disturbing in the extreme. If anything, the state's high cancer rates and already higher radiation levels should be a reason not to add to the burden.

Nevadans have, from the beginning of the Yucca Mountain program nearly two decades ago, demanded just one thing: Before the federal government is permitted to build a nuclear waste dump in Nevada or anywhere else, it must be shown that the site chosen is truly able to isolate this deadly material from the environment for the tens of thousands of years required. That has not been and cannot be demonstrated at Yucca Mountain.

What is known is that spent nuclear fuel is currently safe and secure at the reactor locations where it is generated. If there is a public health and safety risk from such facilities, it is from the operating reactors themselves, not from the passive storage of spent fuel. Moving the waste to an unsuitable and dangerous facility in Nevada, thereby exposing millions of people along transportation routes to significant risks from accidents and sabotage, is just bad public policy.

NIMBYism on the part of the commercial nuclear power industry must not be permitted to stand in the way of finding workable, safe, and publicly acceptable solutions to the nuclear waste problem.


MARTA ADAMS

Senior deputy attorney general

Nevada Attorney General's Office

Carson City, Nev.


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