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Letter: National story about danger at Washington nuclear site is worth noting
This May 13, 2017, photo shows a portion of the Plutonium Finishing Plant on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash. Officials say dozens of workers demolishing the 1940s-era plutonium processing plant there have ingested or inhaled radioactive particles in the past year, prompting a halt to the demolition of the plant until a safe plan can be developed. (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)

Is The Times the paper of record for Northeast Georgia? Well, yes and no. It covers a large part of the state, carries legal notices for the area and does a certain amount of investigative reporting. But it is also a local paper in that the front page is devoted to happening in Hall County and its immediate surroundings.

The big news stories of the day usually come from the Associated Press. In many cases, this is the same news one sees on TV or hears about on the radio first thing in the morning. Why then do I, and many others, buy the paper every day?

I want time to read the news carefully, time to think about what is being said and how it is being said. And I want my own clipping file, something to underline and refer to in the future, my own record on issues of particular concern to me: How often does this or that happen, and what, if any, is the public response?

On April 9, The Times carried an Associated Press release about the cleanup problems at Hanford nuclear weapons site in Washington state. Hanford is almost as far away from Gainesville as one can get. My question to readers is, how many of you noticed? How concerned are you and why? 

Hanford is in big trouble. It is the nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons site. The government wants it cleaned up, but despite spending over $2 billion a year in cleanup, the situation appears to be getting worse. Many of the workers, their cars and other personal property have been contamination. Radioactive contamination has been found miles away. 

We’re not talking about short-lived radioactive isotopes. Hanford produced plutonium, which has a half-life of thousands of years. In other words, it’s going to be around virtually forever. There is really no way to clean it up. This is why activists like myself are concerned enough about the issue to make a fuss about a small column on the last page of the news section. 

If you read it, you probably shrugged your shoulders and thought it was too far away to concern you. Besides, there was nothing you could to about it anyway. Not so! This kind of radiation is as near as your closest nuclear power plant. Every nuclear reactor produces plutonium, and we have several in Georgia and surrounding states. What’s worse, Georgia Power is trying to build more.

There is an old adage that says, when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging! In the case of Georgia Power’s new reactors at Plant Vogtle, stop construction.

Joan King

Sautee

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