The Nevada Appeal recently headlined the words of the constantly reinvented Al Gore, that the State of Nevada should not become a repository for atomic refuse. Is there one among us, anyone, who does not believe that he would say the identical proclamation to the voters of every other state? Of course he would.
To those even of limited scholastic achievement, there exists the irrefutable truism that matter cannot be destroyed, only altered in form and configuration. Atomic waste is matter, and therefore is indestructible. What then to do with this dangerous residue? Well, a few years back after Senator Reid had concluded another one of his "not in my backyard" orations, I wrote and asked the senator, "What then shall we do it with?"
I received a reply that I sorely wish I had retained, and in that reply Senator Reid assured me that the refuse containers were state of the art, and quite fitting for the purpose intended. But he closed with an indefinite, catch-all defense of his position that there were too many unanswered questions relating to safe storage of the residue, but he did not extend the reply to my letter by explaining what the questions are, and I still do not know what the questions are, and given the technical character of the questions, I might not understand them anyway.
That, however, is not the point, and I do not intend this as a cheap shot at Senator Reid. He is a politician, and politicians hang precariously between what is in the best interest of the nation and the possible sectional wrath of the frequently uninformed electorate. In truth, in our early history there were men who died broken men because they were men of principle, and stood up for those principles in the face of scorn from their individual state or district because they chose the interest of the nation over reelection. There are few such men now in Washington as explained by Mississippi Senator Lucius Q. C. Lamar (1877) that men have been given to "abandon altogether judgment and conviction in deference to popular clamor."
"Not in my backyard" our politicians tell us. Well, whose backyard then? Every film and printed explanation that I have viewed regarding the proposed Nevada repository was quite impressive. I assume that the people of scientific and technical skills our government hired to design and build the repository are people in whom we should place our trust; otherwise, why were they hired in the first place? So far, the only intelligent comment that I have heard from a politician (Governor Bush) is that the problem should be decided by scientists and not by politicians. Imagine, if you will, that our intrepid senators, and both representatives were from, say, North Carolina. Is there any doubt that they would be pushing for shipment to the scientifically prepared repository in Nevada? Of course they would, as would the senator, wanna bet, so what is the alternative?
The problem is there, and must be dealt with, and isn't it time to forget geographical boundaries and consider the interests of the nation as a whole?
If the Nevada site is not proper, then junk it and start anew, but do something. The accumulating residue in current storage is far more dangerous than it would be in the bowels of the Nevada desert.
VERNON M. LATSHAW