Close the Tritium Labeling Facility
Bernd Franke, consultant hired by the city to evaluate emissions from the Tritium Labeling Facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab concluded that for the last two years radioactive tritium dumping was reasonably measured and tolerable. Unfortunately, this was when LBNL halted most operations at the Tritium Facility after it was revealed to the public that emissions from the last 30 years had contaminated the next door Lawrence Hall of Science museum badly enough to qualify for Super Fund status. LBNL has curtailed tritium activity in preparation for its upcoming sampling investigation.
The lab is hoping that the reduced emissions will yield favorable results and cause the facility to be removed from the Super Fund list. No evidence was presented by Mr. Franke disavowing the return to normal levels of operation at the Tritium Facility after the tests. He did acknowledge that emissions data from the last 30 years of tritium dumping was so shoddy that he could not affirm the validity of LBNL’s annual declared releases. LBNL admitted to releasing as much as 600 curies of tritiom per year, a frightening amount of this deadly radioactive killer which has been linked to leukemia, cancer, infertility and other mutations. So, minus an independent tree-ring analysis and investigation of the high levels of contamination originally reported by researchers Mencheca and Monheit, we may never know if the large amounts of missing tritium inventory was dumped along with what was admitted by LBNL. Mr. Franke did recommend more investigation of this sort, citing the limits of his contract, but the Lab prefers to stick with its phony sampling plan of which it has total control.
Mr. Franke pointed to the grossly inadequate and non-functioning monitor system as part of his inability to analyze past tritium dumping. When asked if the removal of five monitors which reported high tritium levels was evidence of a cover-up, he responded that this was a political problem and not related to science for which he was hired. After his report became public, the Enviromental Protection Agency, which has been perfectly happy with the Tritium Facility all these years, magically produced $400,000 to upgrade the monitor system. In a blatant attempt to buy off the Facility’s critics, the EPA even offered to let the public have input.
The Committee to Minimize Toxic Waste suggested several state-of- the- art radiation detectors at the LHS site along with smoke tests from the stack to prove that the tritium plume dumps directly onto the museum. The EPA rejected the requests saying that they did not want museum visitors to get the impression that the place was radioactive. They are instead opting for distant locations where the tritium plume never reaches. The community and local leaders should continue to demand the closure and clean-up of the TLF.
Skip Saturday mail
Through “rain, snow sleet or hail,” Americans are used to getting their mail six days a week. We arrive home from work and magically our mailbox is full. It is rare that we ever see how it gets in the box, let alone talk to our mail-carrier or wonder about the logistics of getting mail Monday through Saturday.
As someone who gets the privilege of talking to my mail carrier on a regular basis, I can assure everyone that ending Saturday service is a fair and reasonable thing to do. Mail carriers have a job that requires them to be on their feet for most of the day. Often, these days are long, especially for those working routes that have many large apartment buildings. It isn’t rare for my mail carrier to be out until six or seven in the evening even though he arrived at work before seven in the morning.
Most residential customers, I believe, would be willing to give up their Saturday service so that our mail carriers can have a break. No one should be encouraged to work six days a week so that we can have a simple convenience that most residential customers can live without. The media is making a big deal about losing this service that Americans have come to expect. I hope that most people would agree however that it is worth missing one day of mail service so that our carriers can have a weekend.
Family Plan should help family
Are you aware that Social Security has a “Family Plan”? Since “family” is an important word in everyone’s lexicon, one would think that the Social Security Family Plan would be something that every political party would like to be a part of - use the magic word “family” and win votes. Yet for the past several years my attempts to interest my Senators and Representatives in a glaring omission in the Family Plan have met with little or no response.
Under the current “Family Plan,” parents who take care of a handicapped child are being cheated out of spousal benefits. This is fundamentally wrong. The Family Plan must be changed.
For 24 years I took care of my autistic, retarded son 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Without financial remuneration of any kind, I spent most of my adult life seeing that his every need was met; yet I did not accumulate Social Security Quarters to qualify for Social Security on my own.
Under normal circumstances, when my husband retired at 65 I would have been entitled to full spousal benefits (half of his benefits). Yet because we have a handicapped child, Social Security has determined that the major portion of my spousal benefit be allocated to our developmentally disabled child. Approximately 700,000 mothers of developmentally disabled children all over America are similarly affected. This is grossly unfair.
All other disabled people in America are eligible for Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, and Medicaid. Only parents of developmentally disabled children must give up their spousal benefits. These parents are often elderly women who, instead of entering the regular work force, have spent their lives caring for their disabled loved ones. This situation is particularly perplexing when one considers that SSI money comes out of General Revenue funds, whereas the “Family Plan” is part of the Social Security system. Please write to your Congress person and demand the Social Security Family Plan be changed.