Letter: A recipe for exploitative disaster
The "solution" that Herbert Inhaber offers (in the August 8 Reformer) to the massive problem of nuclear reactor waste disposal in the USA reads to me like a sure-fire recipe for crassly exploitative disaster. Inhaber advocates a cash-driven auction process. In this process, representatives from states containing sites designated as eligible for waste storage would physically or virtually cluster around a real or figurative podium while the auctioneer called out escalating prices until, lo "The price is right" (Inhaber's words) for one of the states. At this point the state representative would "come forward", and ultimately densely shielded trucks and train cars would trundle or clickety-clack off to sites where recipients supposedly wait eagerly for their multi-millennially toxic payloads of alpha, beta and gamma emitting material.
The reasons why this is a horrible idea go far beyond its resemblance to a proposal for some God-awful daytime TV quiz show, a, heaven forfend, career bump for Regis or Howie Mandel. Perhaps it could lead to an equitable distribution of disposal sites in a society that actually made key decisions based on concern for the well being of citizens, but if such a governmental entity has ever existed, here or globally, it certainly doesn't exist now.
The state representatives would be under immense pressures, such that even if every one of them embodied monumental integrity (dubious, but hey..) the hyena pack of corporate lobbyists, con artists and grifters that inevitably forms at the distribution point of big bucks would find a way to make a travesty of the auction system and corrupt the representatives in the process.
The fact that STATES are the would-be recipients radically worsens prospects of any fair waste disposal plan. In their fevered scrambling for revenue sources, ANY revenue sources, many of the US states that are in severe financial straits have tended to jettison human values in favor of fiscal predation. Whatever pietisms administrative figureheads voice, the reality is that, with the conceivable exception of Jerry Brown's California, the tails of ruthless bean counters that monetarily wag hangdog state governments would gleefully put the screws to the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless,, embattled minorities, any and all disenfranchised constituents they can get away with screwing, if by so doing they could extend the illusion of state financial viability by a few months. It's highly doubtful, for example, that presence of a sacred site for a Native American tribe within a proposed dumping ground would even give pause if that "Price was right", and cheers to you, Bob Barker's ghost.
Curiously, I have been a consistent proponent of well-managed nuclear power because of its negligible carbon footprint. I can't, however, even begin to envision the auction plan proposed by Mr Inhaber as having anything to do with "well managed". There has to be a better, or at least a less deplorable way.
Brattleboro, Aug. 9
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