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Use of Atomic Energy Plants

May 09, 1988

Upon reading the piece by Wilson that appeared concerning the "recovery" after the Chernobyl explosion, I was reminded of a story that appeared in Life magazine years ago about the "recovery" of Hiroshima. A young man who had been a baby at the time of the explosion was chosen as a symbol of the restored city--he was newly married, looking forward to his future. Ironically, shortly after the article was published he was diagnosed as having leukemia.

Last summer, an article in The Times spoke of the desperate situation of the Lapp people of Northern Europe, who a year and a half after the Chernobyl explosion were still unable to eat or sell reindeer meat, their primary source of income, because the radioactive contamination levels were too high. Apparently, at quite a distance from the Ukraine, the aftermath of Chernobyl is still being felt.

To the evacuated people of the region surrounding Chernobyl, slowing returning to the slightly radioactive areas where "hundreds of square miles of radioactive trees have been uprooted and buried," to the families of the 31 workers who died in the accident, and to those who barely survived, I'm sure the recovery still seems far from complete.

Wilson's assessment of the recovery and its cost in terms of human suffering clearly indicates that he feels the risk of nuclear catastrophe at a power plant is less than the implicit risks to our environment and our political situation if we continue to use fossil fuels as our primary energy source. How about a compromise?

Maybe some of the $4 billion and technological resources being wasted annually on the Star Wars budget could be spent usefully on the pressing national security concern of developing both viable and safe (unlike nuclear fission reactors) alternative energy sources, and on energy conserving technologies. What better place to apply our ingenuity and know-how? If I may steal a line from Wilson, "The country that applies these technological principles will lead the world."

BETTE KORBER

Pasadena

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