Radioactive waste

TO THE EDITOR: It would be impossible to overstate the gravity of the Fukushima situation — and not just because 400 tons of radioactive waste are being dumped into the ocean every day.

If another earthquake hits Reactor No. 4 and two of its 1,400 fuel rods come into contact, it will be apocalyptic disaster. Radioactive geysers would spew out death for years. In that scenario, scientists are talking seriously about the evacuation of Japan and the entire northern hemisphere.

On Dec. 28, TRN issued an “urgent news flash” warning that the situation in Reactor No. 3 could quickly “attain criticality.” Increasing amounts of radioactive steam are being emitted, and TEPCO doesn’t know why.

How did we get into this mess? The laws of probability predicted all of this long ago, so at least some of the blame should be given to the accountants and financial money managers.

It was known all along that nuclear power carried with it the possibility, for all practical purposes, of infinite future costs from these types of accidents. In one study, the U.S. government stated that we could expect a meltdown every 112 years. Even the processes involved in “normal” radioactive-waste storage were predicted to last for thousands of years, with each storage site being another potential disaster.

But the financial logic went like this: If you deposited $5 in a savings account at an interest rate of 3 percent, in 1,000 years how much would you have? About $34 trillion.

Therefore, applying the same logic in reverse, if future costs were also $34 trillion, their “present value” would be just $5. By that logic, infinite costs in the future amount to nothing today.

Such shady financial accounting is what made nuclear energy appear to be profitable. In the process, the possibility of destroying the planet was thereby justified.

NEAL DUFFY

Department of Economics and Finance

SUNY Plattsburgh

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Backpack Project

TO THE EDITOR: We are writing to thank everyone who participated in the Ted K. Center MLK Day of Service.

This year, we held a Foster a Backpack Project. Thanks to the United Way MLK Day of Service Mini Grant, we bought needed supplies, such as shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, gloves and socks.

The children and staff of the Ted K. Center were able to fill more than 50 backpacks to be donated to foster children in Clinton County.

In Clinton County, more than 100 children are currently in the foster-care system. We hope this project brought some much-needed relief to these children and their foster parents.

A few community members to thank for your backpack donation: Yipes! Plattsburgh; Mike Kelly; Haila Connet, CPA; Nick Tryell; Taryn Moran; Maryann Green; Amanda Chreitzburg; Donna Kelly; Darby Cronin; Irene Gretz; Sara Kelly Johns; and Meg Sopka Girnis.

Also, thanks to the community members who came to the center to help fill the backpacks. You ventured out on a cold and snowy day to celebrate the legacy and the dream of Dr. King through service. Thank you.

TOM NEALE

DIANE CHANOWSKY

Plattsburgh

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