The Paducah Sun

Paducah could lead nation in hazardous waste cleanup

EDITOR: The federal court lawsuit at our gaseous diffusion plant opens the whole can of worms of cleanup, lays it out before us. Fortunately, because of this litigation, we are not going to be passed by, left with radiated piles of debris to fester into the distant future, forgotten by the outside world.

Is cleanup a powerful job producer? There has been a start. Could it become more so? I do believe yes. But only if we want to swing around and attack it full bore.

The Sun has touched on areas of concern that rile the newspaper staff, such as the radiated groundwater. Well, how about hammering away at the Sun's cleanup focus points for starters.

To get better mental focus, energies, inspirations, corporate organizations zeroing in harder heck, there's a whole peacetime mobilization waiting to be stirred up for nuclear cleanup across the country; whole disciplines of inventive genius to be corralled and put on the trail, encouraged on (which we are not doing with negative sniping).

I am told that there are scientists finding super bugs in volcanoes, super hot spots around the world that withstand radiation, consume radiated materials at low levels, reduce radiation in dissipation and dispersion to safe background levels.

Is this my imagination or did I read it somewhere in responsible journals? Well, perhaps a quick dead end. But there is always need for positive continuing public education to keep building confidence that the challenges are being effectively and efficiently addressed.

But couldn't we be swinging around here in our region and becoming leaders in the nation on exploring cleanup of nuclear and other hazardous waste sites? To my knowledge, there is no true center for this anywhere in the world. Information Age Park could be filled with bio and chem explorers and mappers of less expensive ways to go. Our higher learning institutions could boom with the searching.

Even the big engineering consortiums that are into this work around the world admit that current structures of effort in hazardous target areas are so costly that we will be centuries going at it with hundreds of billions of our tax dollars. Maybe that will be the reality. But meanwhile we can sure swing on to the target of cleanup here full bore and the job- creating, dedicated pleasure that comes with enthusiastically taking on a job that needs doing, a job needing to be done very well with Kentucky inventiveness, ingenuity and pride.

TOM BARLOW

Paducah