Augusta Chronicle
Clean up nuclear mess, don't add more
Web posted Saturday, March 31, 2001

Editor, The Chronicle

Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness recently opined, ``The only way anybody could object (to making plutonium pits at Savannah River Site) is if they objected to maintaining a nuclear weapons stockpile.'' (``Production potential upsets some activists,'' March 11 Chronicle).

By international treaty, the United States is committed to eliminating nuclear weapons, so objecting to new weapons production is simply complying with law. But this is not the only objection to a new SRS project.

President George W. Bush will cut $400 million from Department of Energy cleanup budgets while adding nearly $300 million to new weapons work.

For years SRS officials have been telling us that their mission is cleanup. Now they drool over the possibility of building the triggers for nuclear weapons on top of their other new mission to create experimental plutonium fuel.

As nice as the technical challenges and lucrative plutonium production contracts might be for SRS, clean up of the extensive existing contamination must be the primary mission of the site, as SRS literature implies.

Instead of cleanup taking clear priority, projects like plutonium fuel production and and making new plutonium triggers are pursued with greater zeal.

The U.S. does not need new nuclear weapons. We have barely begun to address the harm caused by 50 years of producing the thousands of weapons we have now. Instead of dragging us back to the dawn of the nuclear age, the U.S. should honor its international treaty obligations, clean up the mess it has made and lead the way toward nuclear disarmament.

Jeanne Macuch Kato, Augusta