Letters to the Editor: 01.01.98

Our readers' comments

New Swan
December 26, 1997

Dear Helen:

One of the most welcome holiday gifts for all who appreciate great beauty in outdoor life is the presence these days of two beautiful white swans instead of one beautiful lonesome swan who swam solo far too long.

May they have many peaceful and contented years together paddling around in those special classy waters.

Talk about joy to the world. Feast your eyes!

I just hope and pray the new member is not on a visiting fellowship!



Mismeasured Fish
Tuckerton, N.J.
December 23, 1997

Dear Editor,

The East Hampton Star recently carried mention of Carl Safina's having been ticketed for a 27-inch striped bass (the legal length is 28 inches). It happens that I am the person who caught the fish in Dr. Safina's boat and accidentally mismeasured it and put it in the cooler. It was an honest mistake.

The conservation officer intended to cite me, but Dr. Safina received the ticket because I had left my identification ashore. I have fished with Dr. Safina for about five years, and he maintains the utmost conservation standards, often taking fewer fish than he is legally entitled to.

In fact, the day before, he insisted that we release an 80-pound mako shark we had caught, pronouncing it "too small." I regret this unfortunate mixup over the striped bass, and the incident should in no way reflect on Dr. Safina, who was steering the boat under crowded conditions when I caught the fish and mistakenly announced it to be of legal size and put it in the fish box.



Paper Ballots
December 23, 1997

Dear Helen:

Irving and Bertha Gladstone's letter in The Star of Dec. 18 raised a question about the legality of voting by paper ballots in the recent Amagansett School vote on the proposal to acquire the Mitchell property.

Article 41 of the Education Law sets forth the procedures to be followed in school district elections. Section 2032 specifically authorizes the use of paper ballots. While voting machines may be used, they are not mandatory.

Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone's belief "that unless the voting is recorded by a machine count and supervised in the approved manner, the outcome of the votes case (sic) must be declared null and void" is simply incorrect.

Thank you for your attention.

Very truly yours,

Amagansett School District

Dreaded Shadow
Dublin, Ireland
December 29, 1997

Dear Mrs. Rattray:

A decision regarding the restarting of Brookhaven's high flux beam reactor has been tabled until after the 1998 election, which is good news for area politicians like Michael Forbes, Alfonse D'Amato, George Pataki, and Dennis Vacco, all of whom are up for re-election in the fall of the New Year.

News reports have Forbes and Vacco on the record recognizing the possibility that the reactor might conceivably never restart. However, much of the recent dialogue as reported in the news media talks about conditions under which a restart of the troubled reactor might occur.

Some news reports have a prominent panel of scientific researchers, the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, calling for the reactor to be restarted as soon as possible at double the current capacity. Other items have the State Attorney General's office considering criminal indictments against Brookhaven National Laboratory's recently booted management contractor of 50 years, Associated Universities.

Whatever Long Islanders are led to believe by local media and elected officials, it is important as we round the corner into 1998 to refocus on the central facts of this issue.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is operating a nuclear reactor on its 5,300-acre facility in Suffolk County on top of the area's sole-source aquifer. Associated Universities was fired by the Department of Energy for failing to report in a timely manner the discovery of a tritium leak into the groundwater from a spent fuel-rod pool. The leak went undetected for 12 years.

The release of tritium into the environment is in addition to other toxic materials (solvents, chemicals) that have made Brookhaven an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, one of the great wonders of the toxic-waste world.

Meanwhile, cancer rates on Long Island, particularly in Suffolk County, are among the highest in the United States. Of particular interest is an apparent cluster of a rare form of cancer, rabdo-myo sarcoma, within a 15-mile radius of B.N.L. The instances of this form of cancer near B.N.L. are reported to be 300 times the United States average. Three hundred times.

Medical experts at the University of Pittsburgh who specialize in the study of rabdo-myo sarcoma believe that exposure to low levels of radiation is the likely cause of the disease.

The story of B.N.L., its history of contamination of the laboratory area and perhaps beyond, the strong desire of Stony Brook University (B.N.L.'s new management contractor) to put the crisis behind it and the question of what exactly is the scope of radioactive contamination and what is the link between that contamination and the area's numbing levels of cancer are all issues that must not be tabled until after the 1998 election.

Whether Vacco's office prosecutes officials of Associated Universities or not is irrelevant. Indictments are no substitute for an independent and reliable report on what is really going on at Brookhaven.

Considering that Long Islanders are already paying the enormous $5.5-billion tab handed to them by the Long Island Lighting Company for the Shoreham fiasco, it is all the more disturbing that threats to public health and safety from nuclear power continue to be a difficult issue for the area.

When confronted with the choice of incomprehensibly expensive energy by way of nuclear power (and no foreseeable reduction in rates) and taking a $5.5-billion spit in the face from LILCO, Long Islanders made it clear how they felt about nuclear contamination. They bit the bullet and opted to pay (and pay and pay) while LILCO shareholders escaped meaningful responsibility for the gross mismanagement of the utility.

Five-and-a-half-billion dollars later, Long Island still lives in the shadow of this dreaded contamination. This time, however, it is not a group of stockholders, but a team of scientists who seek protection from accountability by claiming that their important work cannot live without the reactor.

Unfortunately for B.N.L., the question right now is: What is more important, the jobs of 3,200 people at B.N.L. or the health and safety and peace of mind of millions of Long Islanders, as well as their environment?

There is only one sensible conclusion that public officials can impose on B.N.L., and Stony Brook as well, whether these officials are up for re-election in '98 or not. The answer is to close all nuclear reactors on Long Island (both at B.N.L.) immediately. Nuclear reactors do not belong in residential areas, particularly high density areas, and B.N.L. is the awful proof as to why not.



P.S. Letters from area residents regarding this issue should be addressed to Secretary Pena at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Please address correspondence to letters@easthamptonstar.com

Please include your full name, address and daytime telephone number for purposes of verification.