Letter to the Editor

Need answers to nuclear problems

To the editor:

In a time of crisis, all options should be on the table for discussion. So it is that the nuclear option should be on the table when we consider a national energy policy. However, before jumping enthusiastically and blindly into this proposed solution, we need answers to the following problems:

* Nuclear power plants produce waste that is extremely toxic for hundreds of thousands of years.

* The Nuclear Regulatory Commission still lacks a strong track record of monitoring nuclear facilities.

* Both nuclear plants and the fuel and waste shipments will be highly vulnerable targets for terrorists.

* Nuclear power is currently not cost-effective, in part because of the enormous cost of insurance. Currently, taxpayers cover the major risk for utilities with nuclear plants.

* Nuclear power only generates electricity and is not yet practical for much transportation.

* The carbon dioxide footprint of power generation extends from mining and processing the ore, to shipping fuel and waste, to maintaining security and managing the plants.

* Solving these problems will consume vast amounts of federal dollars.

Candidates who argue that we should jump blindly into building vast numbers of nuclear reactors without even considering these problems are promoting a dangerous direction. It is pure folly to disregard the genuine problems and dismiss health concerns as trivial. We deserve a more thoughtful approach, one that carefully weighs the costs and benefits, and seeks solutions to the problems first -- before we rush headlong toward a major disaster.

ADAM GOHN, Cape Girardeau