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Bruce Babbitt

September 26, 1993

* After reading Secretary Bruce Babbitt's Aug. 11 letter to Gov. Pete Wilson on the Ward Valley radioactive waste facility, I felt that neither the secretary nor his aides truly appreciated the issues involved in the proposed site in the Mojave Desert.

While the arguments for the facility have swirled around medical and biotechnical waste disposal, the real reason for this dump is the utility industry's need to dispose of its waste, which will be about 99% of the radioactivity of the total waste thrown into unlined trenches at Ward Valley. They have used skewed information to such good effect that the public, state and national officials and physicians are unaware of the true circumstances. Babbitt's letter did not acknowledge this important fact.

The hearing proposed by Babbitt to be implemented by Wilson is a kangaroo court. It fails in any test of fairness expected in any court. The Wilson proposal blocks the necessary presentation of information by precluding discovery, review of the record of the contractor, examination of the design of the dump, and considerations about the liability for state taxpayers and the uncertainties of the radioactive content of the waste stream. The judge is prevented from issuing any finding but is limited to a report as to whether there is any new information. This is a "Catch 22." How can new findings be revealed if there is no discovery?

The transfer of this pristine desert area should be reconsidered until further scientific efforts can remove the need for the long-lived radioactive tracers that constitute the minute quantities of medical and biotech waste. We may all regret this rush to judgment if the dump becomes a reality.

RICHARD G. SAXON MD

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Los Angeles Chapter

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