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Letter to the Editor

July 02, 2010

Anti-environmental letters missing the point



To the editor:

After reading the anti-environmental letters by Bill Stryker (June 19) and Ned Garrett (June 24), I feel compelled to play myth buster. Unfortunately, they provided so many easy targets, that I'm forced to concentrate on the whoppers.

Mr. Stryker claims that "there has not been a major (oil) spill in 21 years." In fact the number of large spills (over 206,500 gallons) averaged 6.9 per year from 1990 through 2000 alone. (http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Oc-Po/Oil-Spills-Impact-on-the-Ocean.html)

Further, "Approximately 20,000 oil spills are reported to the federal government each year. Of those, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) evaluates as many as 13,000 to determine if its assistance is required. On average, EPA either manages the oil spill response or oversees the efforts of private parties at approximately 300 sites per year." (http://www.epa.gov/ocir/hearings/testimony/ 108_2003_2004/2003_0109_efd.pdf).

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Second, he writes, "If the well had been in 100 feet of water instead of 5,000 feet, the well could have been capped in one day." But the methods tried by BP today are nearly identical to those tried by Pemex with the Ixtoc blowout in 1979, which occurred in 160 feet of water. In 1979, they pumped mud into the well, capped it with a metal "sombrero" (like the top hat containment dome), shot lead balls into the well (junk shot) and drilled relief wells - but it took 10 months to stop the leak. (http://tpmmuckraker.talk ingpointsmemo.com/2010/05/ixtoc_oil_spill.php).

Note: Drilling relief wells eventually stopped the blowout, which is what BP is doing now. So what has changed?

Mr. Garrett, the second writer, blames environmentalists for blocking the construction of nuclear power for electrical generation.

But according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the reasons that there are no firm plans to build nuclear power reactors are: No. 1: Most regions of the nation presently have surplus baseload generating capacity. No. 2: The capital costs of building a new nuclear power plant have historically been high. No. 3: There are financial costs and risks related to the long construction periods in the industry - the last completed nuclear reactor, Watts Bar-1, took 24 years to complete. No. 4: Policy issues such as spent fuel disposal methods, liability insurance questions and overall safety concerns on the part of the public have also adversely affected nuclear construction. (http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/analysis/nuclear power.html).

Environmentalists aren't even listed.

Larry Zaleski
Hagerstown

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