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May 23, 1970 - Image 2

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1970-05-23

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94e Mirigan Ratug
Seventy-nine years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

The AEC: An ineffective watchdog


420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in al reprints.

SATURDAY, MAY 23,, 1970


Nixon Doctrine:
Promises, promises

(EDITOR'S NOTE; The following is reprinted
with permission of Ramparts Magazine. The au-
thor is a former editor of The Michigan Daily.)
fire alarm that sounded at 2:29 p.m.
on May 11, 1969 at the Atomic Energy
Commission (AEC) Rocky Flats plant, 16
miles upwind of central Denver. It sig-
naled the latest in a series of over 200
fires that have occurred since the plant
opened in 1953.
But to hear the AEC tell it, Rocky Flats,
which has the dangerous assignment of
fabricating plutonium into nuclear triggers
for hydrogen bombs and warheads, has
built up an enviable safety record. Den-
verites who expressed concern about this
latest accident were given a soothing, if
somewhat evasive, official reply: "Rocky
Flats ranks first in AEC facilities for saf-
ety and holds the fourth best all-time mark
in American industry - 2122 consecutive
d a y s (24,295,542 man-hours) without a
disabling injury."
But all the press releases and National
Safety Council plaques in Colorado didn't
prevent plutonium from igniting spontan-
eously in the main production area on May
11, The flames leapt up inside the maze of
glove boxes where plutonium is fabricated
into parts for nuclear weapons. Tons of
cellulose laminate shielding in the glove
boxes fed the blaze, and it was nearly three
hours before firemen brought the fire un-
der control.
which operates the plant for the AEC. re-
ported that the fire had done $45 million
worth of damage and burned $20 million

worth of plutonium, enough to build about
77 Nagasaki-size atom bombs. But Dow
and the AEC reassured increasingly ner-
vous Colorado residents that no radiation
had escaped f r o m the safeguarded and
specially constructed plant.
Brandishing data compiled by the Col-
orado Department of Public Health and
the U.S. Public H e a 1 t h Service, AEC
spokesmen declared: "No appreciable
amount of plutonium escaped from t h e
building and no offsite contamination re-
sulted from the fire."
This was supposed to be the last word.
But for the over one million residents of
Denver, it was the beginning of member-
ship in the official AEC fairyland where
accidents a r e infrequent, casualties un-
usual, pollution a forbidden word, and the
gravestones carefully hidden from public
SINCE 1944 THERE HAVE been 142 re-
corded atomic science fatalities, and cau-
tious public health officials predict an-
other 400 to 900 victims within the next
20 years. The conservatism in this estimate
is clear when the facts are considered. In
western towns, for instance, hundreds of
thousands of tons of radioactive uranium
mill wastes have been used as fill for con-
struction sites and the radiation levels in
some of the houses built on top of this
waste are so high that residents are now
being- evacuated. AEC-sanctioned nuclear
enterprises have contaminated the Colo-
rado River, Lake Mead and the Great Salt
Lake with radium; they have dumped ra-,
dio-iodine into the Columbia River and re-
leased fission gases in Puerto Rico. They
have seriously elevated iodine 131 levels in

Utah milk and killed off deer and fish near
Buffalo. And now two top experts predict
that what the AEC regards as "allowable
levels of radiation" could lead to as many
as 32,000 extra cancer victims a year.
There are many reasons for this criminal
irresponsibility. Most obvious is the fact
that the AEC and its allies in industry.have
totalitarianized their hold over nuclear
power. They probably have more freedom
to pollute than any other power structure
in the country. The AEC finances, licenses,
regulates and polices itself. Other govern-
ment agencies inovlved in the sampling
or monitoring of radiation pollution are
often forced to rely on inadequate AEC
data, or are themselves funded-and con-
trolled-by the AEC. Consultants for the
atomic energy industry who work under
AEC research grants crop up time and
again as prime congressional witnesses
proclaiming radiation is virtually harmless
if kept below the so-called "safe-thres-
hold." And although atomic power reactors
are so dangerous that insurance companies
will not cover them (the public, through
Congress, pays for $500 million worth of
insurance on each plant), when a 6tate
agency tries to set tough radiation stand-
ards for proposed nuclear power plants in
its area, it is immediately sued by the
Not only does the AEC control the sci-
entific talent involved in atomic power, it
also determines which information about
its activities reaches the public.
scrutiny, nuclear installations are free to
contaminate both their workers and the
public. The experience at Rocky Flats

makes this clear. During the years the
Colorado nuclear weapons production com-
plex was being hailed as the safest of AEC
plants, many workers there were being
overexposed to plutonium. Plant officials
refuse to say how many have died of can-
cer, but medical journal articles wr!tten by
scientists employed at Rocky Flats admit
that 325 workmen have been contaminated
by radiation over the years.
As in the case of the Santa Barbara oil
disaster, technology to deal with accidents
is almost non-existent. The AEC's solutions
to the pollution it creates are almost
pathetically inept. In 1968, for instance,
a qu'antity of oil that had been contamin-
ated by plutonium was scooped up, placed
in a drum and trucked off from Rocky
Flats to the official AEC burial grounds.
En route, however, the drum began to
leak, contaminating over a mile of high-
way. The AEC's solution was to repave the
road. Unfortunately, plutonium's half-life
of 24.400 years is a good deal longer than
the full-life of asphalt, and many years
from now, when the roadbed wears away,
the hot plutonium will be exposed, to con-
taminate unborngenerations.
After the May 11 fire, local scientists
affiliated with the Colorado Committee for
Environmental Information (CCE) began
to be skeptical of the Dow and AEC scien-
tists. This independent group of college
professors and privately-employed scien-
tists asked the AEC to monitor Denver
area soil for possible plutonium contami-
nation from the fire.
In August 1969, Dow-AEC refused to
make the plutonium soil samples.
@PRamparts Magazine


e 9 cbp T





Letters to the Editor

Speaking of sanctuaries .. .

IN CLARIFYING the U.S. position in
Cambodia, President Nixon promised
the nation that U.S. c o m b a t troops
would not penetrate more than 21 miles
into Cambodia, and that they would be
totally withdrawn by June 30.
One promise has already been
broken, the other will be broken July 1.
Earlier this week, the 21 mile limit
was s ur p a s s e d when the U.S. an-
nounced it had begun bombing the
N o r t h Vietnamese headquarters 28
miles inside C a m b o d i a. Pentagon
sources put it another way saying that
the allied thrust has forced the North
Vietnamese to move their headquarters
beyond the 21 mile limit permitted
U.S. ground troops.
AS OF NOW, the Pentagon is content
to say that they can wipe out the

headquarters with air attacks. But next
week, the Pentagon will probably in-
form us that the North Vietnamese
moved their headquarters again, and
the combat troops will now be neces-
The North Vietnamese headquarters
may well be a figment of the Penta-
gon's "commie - behind - every - tree"
imagination. Or, it may not be.
It doesn't matter. Whether Nixon's
"U.S. ground troops" are there or not,
government officials have made it clear
that U.S. bombers will be. And one way
or another, we will maintain and ex-
pand our military presence in South-
east Asia.

Why Mao?
To the Editor::
Mao Tse-Tung's "Turning the
Tide against U.S. Imperialism"
disgusts me and makes me truly
disillusioned in your wisdom. It is
not that the U.S. is not imperial-
istic, it is. But that is not the
point. Why do you resort to print-
ing the words of someone whose
hands are also blood stained, in
this case with Tibetian blood. Are
you so naive as to be impressed
by anything sounding "revolu-
tionary"? On my part I am not at
all impressed by the condemnation
of one murderer by another. Have
we not enough anti-war and im-
perialism voices among those
whose integrity is pure that you
must quote Mao?
--Bohdan Wytwycky
515 Lawrence
GM proxies
To the Editor::
FIN in a May 21 letter made some
interesting, if not dubious, asser-
tions. The professor, in discussing
Campaign GM, doubted the "so-
cial value of the particular pro-
posal-voting for social and eco-
logical reforms formally proposed
by Campaign GM-but that is ir-
relevant to the larger question
implied." This larger question was
"whether owners should really
control the larger corporations."
Prof. Griffin goes on to state
that corporate giants are control-
led, not by their owners the share-
holders, but, instead, by pofes-
sional managers. These managers,
she adds, are more sensitive to
the community and to social re-
sponsibility that the average
shareholder. True, the sharehold-
ers of GM are diverse-school
teachers, women inheritors, trust
funds, churches, universities, etc.
-and may not be socially con-
scious, but is James Roche or Ed-
win Cole? General Motors creates
approximately 35 per cent of the

air pollution in the United States.
aspects of Prof. Griffin's comn-
ments, are the managers of GM
really best for the business? Does
GM maximize profits at the inter-
section of its marginal cost nnd
marginal revenue curves? Do these
professional managers maintain,
or even attain, a level of optimum
efficiency? Consumer sovereignty
is dying and GM is the mortician.
The shareholders, although po-
tentially not as informed as the
managers, must express their de-
sires with their votes. And if the
managment is wrong, as Lam-
paign GM contends, let the share-
holders vote against the manage-
-Ira E. Hoffman, '73
May 21


To the Editor:

AT DAWN ON Friday, April 24,
a calculated attempt was made to
burn to the ground the Center
for Advanced Study in the Be-
havorial Sciences at Stanford,
California. Fires were set at four
different sites; had they all taken
hold, most of the Center would
have disappeared, along with the
lives of two college students asleep
in a caretaker's cottage. G o o d
fortune, timely discovery, and ex-
pert fire-fighting prevented the
worst. But the actuality was bad
enough: to speak only of measur-
able losses, ten studies were com-
pletely burned - one-fifth of the
total - with varying destruction
to the work of as many Fellows.
The worst losses were suffered by
a distinguished Indian scholar.
The Center is both a place and
an idea. As a place, it sits on a
hillside, overlooking the campus
of Stanford Univetsity. It is built
on Stanford land, but has no oth-
er connection with Stanford or
any other institution. As an idea,
it has had a vital and enduring
impact on the work of more than
700 scholars from the United
States and places in all parts of

the world who have had the op-
portunity to spend a year there,
45 at a time, in independent study
and. research. Established in 1954
with the aid of a Ford Foundation
grant, the Center has offered Fel-
lowships to social scientists and
humanists - sociologists, psy-
chologists, anthropologists, phi-
losophers, political scientists, stu-
dents of history, of literature and
of language, to name just a few
- who are concerned, each in his
own way, with the behavior of
man and society. The Center en-
ables each scholar to pursue his
chosen field of study, in the com-
pany of colleagues, without con-
straints of any kind. The Center,
indeed, has come to epitomize the
free search for truth in the study
of man, the b e s t traditions of
scholarly community, interchange
and dialogue.
We do not know whose hands
set these fires; we do not know
whether the Center was a singular
target, or a symbolic one, or mere-
ly a target of opportunity. What is
clear is that the destruction at
the Center took place in an at-,
mosphere where physical violence,
with cumulative effects, has in-
creasingly become anaccepted in-
strument of political and social
action. The burned-out studies
and charred remains of books and
papers at the Center bear witness
that the consequences of violence,
are perverse, uncontrollable, and
destructive of the life of the mind.
-Richard B. Brandt
philsophy dept.
Stanford University
and 32 others
Letters to the Editor should
be mailed to the Editorial Di-
rector or delivered to Mary
Rafferty in the Student Pub-
lications business office in the
Michigan Daily building. Let-
ters should be typed, double-
spaced and normally should not
exceed 250 words. The Editorial
Directors reserve the right to
edit all letters submitted.

Kudos to experiments
HERE IS AN interesting combination of movies now showing at
the Campus Theater. The subject of the two films is similar, but
the difference in approach and attitude is immense. Add to this the
fact that the supposed "A" film receives top billing over the better
experimental film and you have a perfect example of false advertising.
Who's That Knocking At My Door? is a far cry from the laurels
suggested by its promos as "a new classic." Its technique is as boring
as a home movie and its storyline is worse.
A young man (Harvey Keitel) innocently meets a young lady
(Zina Bethune) in the setting of the Staten Island Ferry. Their rela-
tionship blossoms into love and talk of marriage pervails until the
young man discovers that his true love has been raped in her youth and
is no longer pure. Although he is no rookie when it comes to bedroom
gymnastics, he is a firm believer in the idea that the girl he settles
down with must be of the stock from which Virgin Marys are made.
Their relationship dissolves as quickly as it occurs when the girl realizes
this, and they go their separate ways amid the hustle of lower-class
life in New York.
The makers of this movie have made a vain attempt at symbol-
izing religion as the central issue in the final decision. However, except
for preponderance of religious references in the last scene, this theme
never really develops.
The other movie, In, is a Canadian experimental film, that offers
enough in diversity and involvement to stand by itself.
Again the story deals with two people in love, but the circum-
stances are more realistic and the style is more entertaining.
The key figure is a boy named Tom-a gigolo who knows how to
play the game, but still comes off as being sort of loveable-in a cor-
rupted sense. After we see how he operates, the fickle hand of fate
interludes and he falls for a girl he had planned on exploiting. To-
gether they continue to rake the system until an accidental murder
provides the girl with a reason for splitting the scene, thus forcing the
young man to suffer the plight of those he has previously rendered.
The golden rule may be "Do onto others," but in this case a strong
point is made for keeping an eye on those you are in cahoots with.
The film's photography is excellent. There is a juxtaposition of
black and white and color film, but this is handled well, and the trans-
fers are comfortable.
Some of the dialogue is lost because of mumbling, but it works
as an integral part of the film and not against it. The humor is perhaps
a bit burlesque, but nevertheless funny in a subtle sort of way.
Since the double feature has become a thing of the past, movie
audiences have adjusted their patience quotas and now prefer to only
see one film at a time. Two movies in one night, though better in terms
of financial reasons, can be an awful strain to sit through. In is shown
first and it may be wise to see it and then quietly sneak out of the
theater before the second feature begins. But for those die-hards, who
feel they have to get their money's worth-my sympathy.




Observatory extension:
Cars or people?

THE PROPOSED Observatory S t r e e t
extension, w h i c h comes before City
Council Monday night for final approval,
is another example of the misguided pri-
orities that plague Ann Arbor and all
U.S. cities.
The e x t e n s i o n of Observatory from
Geddes Road to Forest to facilitate traffic
movement to the hospital area will not
only cut through one of the city's most
pleasant residential neighborhoods, but
will also cause a change in traffic pat-
terns that could affect a far broader
The disruptive effect that the extension
will have on the Forest Court neighbor-
hood is reason enough for the council to
reject the extension. But neither this im-
mediate consideration, nor the opposition
to the extension expressed in a memoran-
dum prepared by members of the city's
planning department appear to have per-
suaded a majority of the council's mem-
Few people, however, have considered
the effects the extension will have both
on the people who live near Observatory
north of the Forest Court area, and on
those who live to the south of the pro-
nnvsc~ci extension in the Buri'ns Park neii'h-

Eventually, the stretch of Observatory
now on the hill would also have to be
expanded to meet the increase in cars.
And widening Observatory to four lanes
would m a k e it necessary to eliminate
parking, which would cause a great in-
convenience for dormitory residents, or
to destroy the trees and bring cars even
TRAFFIC RUNNING south on Observa-
tory will run into Forest and proceed
on to Hill Street. Many residents of the
Burns Park neighborhood fear that some
of this traffic will continue south onto
residential streets instead of turning on-
to Hill. They also fear that eventually the
increase in traffic volume in the area
might prompt the city to consider putting
in a through route south from Hill to
Stadium Boulevard.
k And they are right. Any increase in
traffic in the Burns Park area would be
as disruptive to people's lives as the ex-
tension itself is to those who live near
Forest Court.
Street improvements can provide only
temporary relief for transportation prob-
lems, and a never-ending series of stop-
gap measures can provide no solution to

b alancing teacups

The ritual of 'making it'-American Style


nadine colnodas."

EVERY FORAY into Nightlife offers that
golden opportunity to Meet-Someone-
Have - A - Few-Drinks-an-Hope It-Goes-
from-There we have all either experienced,
read about or seen in the movies.
Just the other night a friend and I went
to one of Ann Arbor's night spots where
the golden opportunity manifested itself
for four patrons.
About 10 p.m. two women and two men
entered the club separately and somehow
found each other - an event that most
likely was occurring at a thousand bars
across the country.
All four eventually landed three seats
away from where my friend and I were
sitting and whether we liked it or not, we
were within hearing distance of their anx-
ious conversation and within viewing dis-
tance of subtle efforts both at the table
and on the dance floor.

FURTHER RITES. The subject of thirst
brings up the subject of quenching it -
not with water, of course, but with a beer
or some other appropriate drink.
And after the waitress takes the order,
the rites begin. That night they included
dancing and as soon as the waitress did
her part, the foursome bounced onto the
floor to begin.
ing, especially if the music is fast, is a nice
anonymous, aloof way to have The Good
Time. And the four patrons did their part
gloriously, jiggling as best they could to
the beat of the music, smiling and laugh-
ing when necessary.
As the music continued and as each
partner felt more at ease with the other,
their jiggling increased to include strains
of The Twist, The Pony, a little Rumba

This phase - which the foursome hand-
led quite nicely - takes very little finesse.
It merely involves suggesting "Boy, I sure
am thirsty after that dancing - you know,
you're really good - I think I'll have an-
other drink. How about it?" And accosting
the nearest waitress to give the order. -
Meanwhile, of course, the constant
stream of conversation is going on about
how good the band is, how many brothers
and sisters do you have? Do you like Ann
Arbor? Do you come here often?
MOVE. It is now nearing midnight and the
time to determine just how well and how
far things are going. Whether or not it
must always be like this, The Move cur-.
rently is, in American society, most often
made by the male.
And the other night it was done pretty
much along ccepntepd lines. the only change

same time made her position clear: She
was not interested in Moving just then.
actual, physical Move fails, one can always
resort to verbal suggestions like, "Well, why
don't we all go to my place." Or if either
party is visiting, "Say, do you know of a
good spot we could go to after this?"
Phase VI was executed that night, not
too long after the First Attempt failed.
But the suggestion was nipped in the bud
by squeals from the women about fatigue,
inebriation, having to get up-early and
"I'm only a junior" (at what we couldn't
decipher). Then the women abruptly got
up from the table and scurried out of the
Well, you can't always get what you want.


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