Letters to the Editor, Magazine
New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York NY 10036
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
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.
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety