- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2003

A costly fusion reactor

Charles Rousseaux rightly laments the enormous cost of the proposed International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) fusion reactor that President Bush is supporting (“Wishing on a star,” Commentary, Wednesday). The construction cost alone of the ITER fusion boondoggle is $5 billion (U.S.). After 10 years of construction, there will be 20 years of operating costs and then decommissioning.

Nor is ITER environmentally benign. Its own designers admit that it will result in 30,000 metric tons of radioactive waste, deadly for 100 years. ITER also uses large amounts of radioactive tritium for fuel, and emissions will increase the cancer risk in downwind populations.

Nor is there any practical benefit from the ITER reactor. It is purely experimental and will not produce any electricity — a commercial fusion reactor is at least 50 years away. The seven international ITER partners are expected to meet in the District Dec. 15 to decide on a host country for the reactor. All the partner countries will be losers. The Sierra Club of Canada opposes the siting of ITER in Canada because it is a senseless waste of taxpayers’ money and a ridiculous direction for energy policy. The real answers to our energy problems are available now: efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

DAVID H. MARTIN

Policy adviser

Sierra Club of Canada

Toronto

Assessing the California recall

Tod Lindberg, in his column “The California recall and beyond” (Op-Ed, Tuesday), has given an accurate picture of the bizarre recall election. However, he failed to capture the anger most voters felt over the failure of Gov. Gray Davis to deal with the immigration issue.

Though there is no doubt that immigration is a federal responsibility, the electorate was quick to retaliate against Mr. Davis’ attempt to pander to Hispanics by signing a bill granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens after vetoing two far more restrictive bills.

Their anger is reflected in the speed with which voters are signing a petition to overthrow this measure by placing a referendum on the ballot. More than 50,000 signatures were gathered in the first week the petitions were circulated.

This anger also is reflected in a Frank Luntz exit-poll report that shows that voters believed illegal immigration was at least partially responsible for the state’s financial problems. The report also indicates that the issue of immigration played both a direct and an indirect role in the recall election because of its impact on the economy.

There is no doubt that Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger has a tiger by the tail on the immigration issue, in addition to his efforts to solve the budget crisis. There is little doubt that the voters will demand quick results.

BYRON SLATER

San Diego

Fish phobia

Kudos to Ann Geracimos for attempting to allay the latest “fish phobia,” (“Clamoring for safe seafood,” Metropolitan, Tuesday). There is a great deal of misinformation out there on safety and sustainability, and unfortunately, some of Ms. Geracimos’ sources for the article are misinformed. Had the Food and Drug Administration or the National Marine Fisheries Service been consulted, they might have helped clarify some of the points made.

Mercury residues in seafood have little to do with a species’ location in the sea but more with its location in the food chain.Of the top 10 seafoods consumed in the United States (which make up about 87 percent of the seafood Americans eat), most are extremely low in mercury and present no threat to the general consumer. PCBs, ubiquitous in the environment, can be found at trace levels in both farmed and wild fish, but because both are good sources of important omega-3 fatty acids, the choice should be one of personal taste.

Furnishing consumers with a guide to sustainable seafood is a noble effort. However, these guides tend to be out of date even before they are printed. The status of various fisheries is dynamic and changes often — sometimes in a matter of months. A good example is farmed shrimp. Many guides tell consumers to avoid it because of mangrove destruction for farms, but mangroves have not been cleared for fish farms in more than 40 years. Most nations have mangrove reforestation projects under way to replace mangroves lost through other human activities, such as leather tanning and charcoal production.

The seafood industry is one of the most regulated, both in terms of food safety andfisheries management. Those who produce seafood — whether farmed or wild-caught — want to ensure that a sustainable supply remains, so they can pass their businesses on to the next generation and keep seafood on America’s tables.

LINDA CANDLER

Vice president

National Fisheries Institute

Arlington

The need to acknowledge Rusyns

Jeffrey T. Kuhner’s article (“Opportunity in Ukraine,” Commentary, Tuesday) refers to a history of Russia’s “large-scale ethnic cleansing” in Ukraine that is little-known in the West. An issue that has received even less publicity is Ukraine’s discriminatory policies toward one of its own ethnic minorities, the Carpatho-Rusyns (also known as Rusyns or Ruthenians).

The state of Ukraine refuses to recognize the existence of this distinct national minority living within its borders. Approximately 650,000 Carpatho-Rusyns — the indigenous inhabitants of Transcarpathia — are denied the right to their own name, language and culture. In the census of December 2001, Rusyns were discouraged from identifying as such and were counted as a “sub-ethnic group” of Ukrainians. This continuation of Soviet census categorization and practice in present-day Ukraine, a violation of international human rights conventions, is part of a long-standing Ukrainian effort to assimilate Carpatho-Rusyns and to destroy their religious, linguistic and cultural heritage.

As Ukraine seeks to enter the European Community, the human rights record of the Ukrainian government should be scrutinized in regard to its Rusyn minority. Rusyns in Ukraine deserve to be registered as an official minority, to have their language protected by the European Charter for Regional Languages and to receive governmental support equal to that granted to other minorities.

Today, Kiev denies the existence of Rusyns in much the same way that the Russians once denied the existence of Ukrainians. Mr. Kuhner reminds us that “no other peoples suffered more than the Ukrainians under the murderous reign of Soviet communism.” While it is important to remember Soviet human rights abuses, it is equally important that the West does not ignore the plight of the peoples who are now at the mercy of Ukraine’s Soviet-style nationality policies.

T.A. BRENZOVICH

President, National Capital Chapter

Carpatho-Rusyn Society

Washington

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