In the July 26, 1998 Sunday Edition of the New York Times (Magazine) a photo essay was published praising the WIPP facility as a solution to US nuclear waste issues.

While the essay contained nice photography, it offered little in terms of serious content concerning the true purpose - and critical faults of the facility.

Following is a rebuttal sent to the New York Times by CCNS members Sasha Pyle & Margret Carde.

Letters to the Editor, Magazine
New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York NY 10036

Dear Editor,

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant or WIPP may be the "Cadillac of Mines" but it is the Edsel of nuclear waste disposal sites.

Your photo essay failed to say that the Department of Energy (DOE) plans to send less than 2% of its huge inventory of nuclear weapons-waste to WIPP . That leaves 98% at the generating sites across the nation. Worse, the 2% bound for WIPP is packaged and isolated from soil, water, and air, while much of the 98% is uncontained, having been thrown directly into shallow pits. This is the stuff that currently threatens aquifers. DOE spends our taxes promoting WIPP while ignoring this mess.

Real costs at WIPP will be at least another $19 billion (according to DOE's SEIS-II document) or possibly another $29 billion (according to the General Accounting Office). The lowballed $100-million-a-year figure you quoted (a total of $3.5 billion) is somebody's wishful thinking or faulty math.

It's precisely this type of inefficiency and inertia which keep nuclear weapons spending going up-up-up, long after the Berlin Wall came down. Most taxpayers would be quite startled to learn the figures.

WIPP is plagued with unsolved technical problems. Everyone agrees the site will leak radioactivity, chemicals and gases. We just don't know when. Why not admit the "pilot project" is a failure and spend those billions really cleaning up the sites without trucking plutonium across 22 states to a new, irretrievable mess? It was surreal to see this controversial and dangerous facility dressed up for its photo-op in your glossy magazine while the most telling facts went unreported.

Sasha Pyle
Margret Carde
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety