To the editor:
Regarding uranium exploration and leaching in Mississippi County: The current operations in the Bootheel are similar to Chernobyl on two points.
1. Both places, the Ukraine and the delta counties of Missouri, have some of the best agricultural soils in the world. The area around Chernobyl can never again be used in humanity's life span.
2. The Mississippi County area has the potential to end up in the same boat, because in situ leaching will cross both the St. Francis and Ozark aquifers, potentially forever contaminating them with uranium as well as other heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic. Those minerals are also found in Missouri's bedrock limestone. That water is used for irrigation and could potentially spread heavy metals, including uranium, all over the Bootheel.
Further, no place that has experienced uranium mining or processing has stayed free of contamination, corporate malfeasance and government mishandling. Few laws, if any, regulate mining in Missouri or anywhere in the U.S. The Bush administration has weakened whatever laws were on the books, and agencies like the Mine Safety Health Administration are so underfunded and understaffed that enforcement is a joke. Names like Rocky Flats, Hanford, Fernald, Oak Ridge, Savannah River, Paducah, Lambert Airport, the Missouri Bottoms and Weldon Spring in our own state, among others, are blatant proof that human beings are incapable of managing uranium and its processing without contaminating air, water and soil.
TOM KRUZEN, Mountain View, Mo.