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Scary Statistics

When human beings do things, human error creeps in. Even in your comprehensive article on CP&L's nuclear waste scheme, "Hot Rods" [Nov. 29]: CP&L actually plans to store the waste assemblies about half an inch from each other, rather than a foot apart. A foot of cooling space was the early design for these pools; CP&L's plan allows one quarter inch, then a neutron shield, necessary to stop a nuclear chain reaction from self-starting, and then another quarter inch to the next waste assembly.

And CP&L chose the least backup cooling for their ever-denser waste pooling, among all the options they admit considering.

Given the $500 billion plus and 100,000 cancer deaths that could result from a fire in only 25 percent of the waste CP&L plans to pile up in our backyard, that gives a value of $1.25 billion probable damage. NRC's science advisors warn a real accident could be at least four times worse from the same fuel. That would make improved waste safety worth $20 billion, ignoring the value of human life. Yet CP&L refuses to spend between $29 and $90 million to eliminate this risk.

In fact, CP&L got a $120 million plus windfall on the recent sale of a communications unit. That would more than pay for high quality dry nuclear fuel storage for all their waste, plus they could leave most of it where it's produced, reducing transportation risks. But like the Grinch, they won't. No wonder they changed their corporate name so it begins with "PR."

--WELLS EDDELMAN, STAFF SCIENTIST, N.C. CITIZENS RESEARCH GROUP, DURHAM


Ruffin Rebuke

The article by Barbara Solow [Dec. 13] belies your newspaper's name and your founder's statement, "We believe in journalism with a moral purpose." It seems one can be "independent" only if you agree with the politically correct. Because Mr. Ruffin professes to be a born-again Christian and holds to certain moral and spiritual principles, Ms. Solow thinks that he should be treated with unusual suspicion and is perhaps incapable of honestly fulfilling his responsibilities. Because he holds strong religious beliefs?

Would such a question, or suspicion, be raised if he was Jewish, Muslim or Catholic? I thought we got over such biased, narrow opinions when J.F. Kennedy became our president. Perhaps if Mr. Ruffin practiced Ms. Solow's religious beliefs she would not think them "questionable." Please at least play fair.

--EDWARD W. CARMICHAEL, GREENSBORO


Oh, deer

I was touched by the kindness shown by Dr. Darren Holman to a dying deer that had been hit by a car on Tryon Road, as reported in Dan Neil's most recent column [Dec. 13]. However, I find it vastly ironic that Neil complains of a "pastoral back road" becoming a "grossly overburdened traffic artery" when he glorifies the automobile--and not the most fuel efficient ones, at that--in his weekly column. It seems to me that a man who brags about driving a Ferrari ("breathtaking, a brilliant obsidian arrowhead, with a husky vibrato from the 12-cylinder engine" [June 14]) at 79 mph on I-85 in Greensboro needs to examine the small role he plays in the burgeoning traffic problems in our region.

--SUZANNE FISCHER, DURHAM


Dear Dan Neil,

Your column is one of the things I never miss when I sit down Saturday mornings with a cup of coffee and The Independent. Like so many of us, you love fast cars, hate SUVs, and feel in your bones that visceral joy when man and machine become one. But every once in a while, you step outside the cockpit and take a look around (and within) to contemplate the deeper mysteries of life and death. Your tale of Dr. Holman and the injured doe struck a chord with me. I've never seen so many deer around, they look so lost and displaced by our intrusion into their sacred territory, and once again last night I had to blow my horn to warn a young doe who had meandered onto the highway. As she scrambled for cover, I felt such a twinge of guilt, knowing I should be the one getting the hell out of her way.

I just wanted to say thanks, man, for having a heart bigger than the average human's and not being afraid to open it to the rest of us.

Ride on.

--L.D. RUSSELL, CHAPEL HILL

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