Friday, 14 November 97 Washington, DC
1. NUCLEAR ENERGY: DOMENICI VOWS TO LEAD A "NEW DIALOGUE."
It is his agenda for next year, and it raises issues politicians have
ducked for two decades. In a speech at Harvard two weeks ago,
Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Appropriations Committee chair,
laid out our mistakes:
Lead on Pete!
- In 1977, to prevent proliferation, we
halted efforts to reprocess spent fuel and to develop mixed-oxide
fuel (MOX) for civilian reactors in the hope that other nations
would follow suit -- they didn't;
- we regulate exposure to low-
level radiation on the basis of a "linear-no-threshold" model
that everyone knows is wrong;
- while people are dying from E.
Coli contamination, we refuse to allow irradiation of beef;
set a CO2 reduction goal that will harm the economy unless we
also increase nuclear energy production;
- we export safe
nuclear technology while relying on 20-year old technology at
- we are not converting excess weapons material into
non-weapons shapes and MOX fuel; 7) we're on a course of burying
rather than reprocessing energy-rich spent fuel.
2. SPACE STATION: ESCALATING COST OVERRUN CLAIMS A VICTIM.
By the end of station assembly in late 2003, the cost overrun is
already projected to be nearly $1B. The House Space Subcommittee
told NASA to cover the latest $200M shortfall from existing
accounts. But not just any existing accounts; Dana Rohrabacher
(R-CA), the Subcommittee chair, told Wilbur Trafton, NASA's space
station chief, that he wants the money taken from Mission to
Planet Earth, the environmental monitoring program Rohrabacher
hates. NASA has already transferred $462M from space science to
keep the space station on schedule
(WN 22 Aug 97). Yesterday,
just eight days after the tense subcommittee hearing, Trafton
announced his departure from NASA for "personal reasons." Most
observers believe the encounter with Rohrabacher was a factor.
3. SCIENCE MAGAZINE: RABID BOOK REVIEW CLAIMS A VICTIM.
In an interview this week with the Chronicle of Higher Education, the
former book-review editor of Science, Katherine Livingston, says
her retirement last month after 33 years at the journal was due
in large part to harsh criticism of one review. "The Flight from
Science and Reason," the proceedings of a conference examining
the embrace of antiscience by postmodern academics, was reviewed
by Paul Forman, a Smithsonian curator and one of the leaders of
the postmodern movement. It was less a review than a nasty
diatribe against science itself. There was a vigorous negative
reaction to Forman's review by Science readers
(WN 16 May 97),
and Floyd Bloom, editor of Science, reprimanded Livingston.
4. BROOKHAVEN: GAO REPORT ON TRITIUM LEAK SPARES NO ONE.
At the request of the House Science Committee, GAO set out to fix the
blame (WN 6 Jun 97).
Lab officials treated the problem as a low
priority, but direct responsibility fell on DOE's on-site office.