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Letters to the Editor

Monday June 11, 2001

Dog killer is  

a sick man 


Concerning the (ooops) who threw the little dog into the oncoming traffic: 

Personally, this unmerciful living specimen — if sentenced to a jail term — should have his cell surrounded with “LARGE” pictures of this little dog. Somewhere in his lifetime he will be reminded of this sick act. 


Alice Noriega 

San Pablo 


Reddy deserves more punishment 


You may know that the prosecutors in the Lakireddy Bali Reddy sexual slavery case have recommended to Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong that he receive the outrageously short sentence of only five to five and a half years of incarceration. Judge Armstrong on June 19 has the prerogative to sentence Reddy to a maximum of 38 years. Even this sentence is much lower than it should be were he being prosecuted for negligent homicide or for conspiring to murder 17 year old Chanti Prattipati and her 15 year old sister by failing to call an ambulance or paramedics to resuscitate them.  

This is not a mere Bay Area matter. It is or should be of national concern. Write to Judge Armstrong ASAP! Urge her to sentence Reddy to 38 years: 

Honorable Saundra Brown Armstrong  

Federal Building & Courthouse 

1301 Clay St. #400 South 

Oakland, CA 94612-5212. 

Phone her at (510) 637-3559.  

For further information and or materials for posting, contact Dr. Diana Russell at (510) 843-0680 or Marcia Poole at (510) 549-3345 or B J Miller at (510) 527-4582.  


Helen Rippier Wheeler  




Beth El article missed two  

critical points 


Your article on the City Council’s hearing about Congregation Beth El’s plans to build a new synagogue said that about 440 people attended — a record high according to Mayor Shirley Dean. 

You did not point out that about 85 percent of the people present came to support Beth El. This crowd included Berkeleyans of all ages and ethnicities, representatives of many groups that benefit from Beth El’s community services, more than a dozen clergy of various faiths, and neighbors of the Oxford Street site who favor the synagogue’s plans. It was an unprecedented outpouring of support from a diverse group of Berkeley citizens. 

The Daily Planet’s article also mentioned and pictured signs displayed by opponents of the project. But it ignored the larger number of signs held by Beth El backers that read “For Kids and the Community — Congregation Beth El,” a statement of the congregation’s mission and priorities. 

Your article quoted a speaker expressing concern that the creek could never be daylighted if the project is built as designed. You did not, however, quote the expert who showed how the creek could be daylighted without changing Beth El’s building plan. 

I know it is difficult to include all pertinent information about such a complex subject, and your article was generally accurate and balanced. But it seems to me that leaving out the dramatic difference in the level of attendance by the opposing sides and the impressive presentation on daylighting were serious omissions.  


Michael Ferguson 



Tritium will not harm Berkeley 


In two recent public meetings Berkeley citizens have heard the results of the latest safety evaluation of the Lawrence Lab Tritium facility. Mr. Bernard Franke, the principal investigator, reported that he found no evidence that tritium exposures have ever reached the safety limits for tritium set in the Clean Air Act. In a personal endorsement of the safety of the tritium lab, he said if he had children he would allow them to use the nearby Lawrence Hall of Science. He noted that reports of his comments on potential fire hazards had been exaggerated, and he praised LBL for their cooperation. 

Once again we are reaching the end of an investigation which has produced the same general results as the five preceding studies.  

McKone, Brand, and Shan (1997): the maximum yearly radiation dose to a member of the public from tritium is 0.13 mrem, less than the additional cosmic radiation received during an airplane flight from Oakland to Los Angeles. This is an insignificant fraction of the 200-260 mrem we get every year from background radiation in the Bay Area. This report was approved by the California department of Health, U.S. Public Health Service, and Environmental Protection Agency. 

Straume (1998): the risk of dying from tritium emissions for residents living near LBL is approximately one out of 10,000,000 per year, about half the risk of death from the bite of a venomous animal. For the rest of Berkeley, up to two kilometers from the lab, the risk is about one-tenth of that. 

U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances (1999): reported no excess health risk for nearby residents. They noted “no indication of an unusual occurrence of cancer cases among the population of the LBNL area” and no contamination of drinking water. Regarding infertility, they noted that the doses required to affect reproductive capacities were “several orders of magnitude higher than the radiation doses received from tritium released from LBNL.” 

National Center for Research Resources (1999): reported that risks were “exceedingly small. … the maximum lifetime dose, due to tritium emissions from the NTLF, to a (hypothetical) individual both living and working for his/her entire lifetime at the perimeter of the NTLF is less than 1 mSv. For comparison, the lifetime dose from natural sources (radon, cosmic rays, etc) is about 250 mSv.” 

Senes Center for Risk Analysis (2000): exposures were "far below dose and risk limits established for the protection of public health." One of the authors commented that in his entire career assessing radiologic risk he had never seen an instance where the concern was so high and the risk was so low. 

Thus, we have had six studies, all indicating that the operations of the tritium lab pose no threat to Berkeley. (This is my personal opinion; neither the Toxics department nor the Environmental Commission has taken a position.) The city has responded generously to the citizens concerned about tritium. Hundreds of hours of staff time have been expended by the Toxics department. The studies conducted by Straume and Franke were paid for by the city. In fact, Straume was hired to do his evaluation at the urging of the CMTW, the group opposing the lab. However, they were dissatisfied with his report and suggested another consulting firm; the Franke study was actually done by that firm’s sister organization. It appears that they are equally disappointed in Franke and, despite six negative studies, continue their efforts to close the tritium lab. 

Competent investigators from universities, risk analysis organizations, public health departments, the EPA, and the National Center for Research Resources have found no reason for Berkeley citizens to live in fear of the tritium labeling lab up the hill. Perhaps the time is coming when Berkeley can finally take tritium off its agenda. 


Elmer R. Grossman, M.D. 

Community Environmental Advisory Commission