Letters to MotherJones

Nuclear solutions
Re: “Nuking the Atmosphere”

Mark Cohen attacks the fact that fossil fuel plants are used to power uranium enrichment facilities. Of course, if we had more nuclear power plants to power enrichment facilities, the coal plants could be shut down.

As if this was not enough, he conjures up the lazy man’s argument against nuclear power: radioactive waste, and where to store it. European nations seem to do just fine storing theirs, and it would certainly be easy to fund research into eventual destruction or re-use of the waste. In any case, a lot of safely stored radioactive waste sure beats pumping more coal smoke into the air.

Of course, he also brings up silly parting shots, poking at industry accidents. Modern nuclear power plants are very carefully designed to prevent such things from ever happening again.

James Puckett


No profit from prison
Re: “Lockdown Shutdown?”

When you have an economy based on keeping prison doors open, you are in trouble. Youngstown needs to think of another way to attract business. What are they going to do when the laws change again, and the sentiment moves toward community treatment instead incarceration? They are just delaying the inevitable.

Sandy Reed


A noble suggestion
Re: “Padlock the Revolving Door!”

You bring up the best solution yet to this troublesome situation. But don’t expect anyone to listen.

Olivia M. Canorro


Rall’s legislative nightmare
Re: “Padlock the Revolving Door!”

This is one of the most impractical ideas I’ve read about in a long time. Even forgetting about the infringement of First Amendment rights, forgetting about the trouble of getting legislators to pass this, just how exactly would you word these bills, and how would you enforce such a thing?

At least Ted Rall identifies a very important problem.

Carolyn Keeny


Safety costs a pretty penny
Re: “Nuking the Atmosphere”

While the problems listed in this article are true and disturbing, I think you overlooked one major factor in the economics of running a nuclear reactor. The reason that nuclear power is expensive and not economically competive is due to the huge environmental requirements that force the energy company to use almost half of their on-site staff to deal with the paperwork and the emergency spills. The requirements placed on these plants are the real problem economically. Of course, I am very happy that nuclear plants must run through these hoops for my safety.

There’s also an error in the story regarding the heated water issue. When I worked at a nuclear plant, if the water temperature going from the plant into the river was more than two degrees above the river temperature, they used the cooling towers to ensure that the waste water did not harm the river. There are no level of concern like this at any of the five coal plants I have ever been to, much less at the steel plant that I also worked at.

Andrew Davison


MoJo finally discovers watt’s watt
Re: “Nuking the Atmosphere”

Finally you acknowledge that you have to account for all steps in the process of delivering energy. But in this case you use it to bash nuclear power. The same arguments apply to electric cars, windmills, etc. and all of these technologies should be compared on the same basis.

John E. Lueke


Nuke power’s actually preferable
Re: “Nuking the Atmosphere”

The first argument regarding burning coal to power the refining process, and thus producing emissions, is totally bogus. The truth is, that as more nuclear plants come online, more emissions-belching fossil-fuel plants can be retired.

As for groundwater contamination, it stems from uranium that’s naturally in the soil. Fallon, Nevada, is experiencing a tragic “leukemia cluster” where far more than the average number of children have come down with this dreadful disease. The source of the problem isn’t arsenic, it’s the high amount of naturally-occuring radioactive uranium in the water. Better means of eliminating naturally-occurring uranium must be developed, nuclear power or not.

The cooling-water argument is also bogus because fossil fuel plants produce the same amount of warm water as nuclear plants do, relative to the power output of the plant. More effective methods have been developed to mitigate this issue, but it also occurs naturally: look up those National Geographic articles on giant tubeworms which thrive on the ocean floor where there are heat vents from the earth’s molten core. There is a fossil-fuel plant 10 miles from my home, and the best bass fishing is in the cooling ponds used to receive the excess heated water from the plant.

I’d also like to point out that France, which derives about 80 percent of their electricity from nuclear power, hasn’t had any nuclear accidents. Also, the US Navy has run several hundred nuclear reactors over the last forty years and hasn’t had a single accident. Both of these organizations run standardized reactor designs that allow operators to perfect safe operating procedures.

Mike Florio
Yerington, Nev.


Corporations aren’t people, too
Re: “Shell ads on motherjones.com”

I believe the application of personal rights to corporations — which are business entities, not people — is misguided. Corporations should have certain protected rights, but free speech identical to that granted to citizens is not one of them. Corporations are fundamentally different from people in regard to the motivation for speaking. Protecting corporations’ right to free speech amounts to merely protecting their right to do whatever is necessary and technically legal to turn profits, even if it means lying.

Corporations’ greediness arises fundamentally from corporate structure. Corporations are not people — let’s stop treating them as such, and let’s stop pretending that advertising and propaganda are identical to personal expression.

Lars Pomara


Call a spade a spade
Re: “The Bush Files”

I don’t think of this as a presidency. It’s more the Good Old Boys’ Big Oil Adventure, or what happens when the Dukes of Hazzard get in bed with great wealth.

Albert Solochier