Blog Archive - 2011

Fires Near Los Alamos Nuclear Facility

The forests surrounding Los Alamos National Laboratory have burned and are certain to burn again with some regularity, whether from lightning or human causes.  If too many trees are allowed to remain near laboratory facilities, those too will sooner or later burn, despite everyone’s best efforts.

We are not as yet very concerned about radioactive or toxic materials being caught up in the present fire because we do not see, at present, much possibility of uncontrollable fire reaching any of those hazards.  There are not many trees near some of the most conspicuous hazards, such as the main nuclear waste storage site, and these wastes are not highly combustible in their present form.  The same considerations apply to buildings that contain nuclear materials — they are not very combustible.  We assume a reasonable degree of competence on the part of highly-trained firefighters involved, and sufficiency of equipment.

The reappearance of very high winds could complicate matters, however, as could the potential presence of unadmitted hazards in unknown locations.  A few laboratory areas do contain volatile soil contamination.

Much about Los Alamos is a de facto secret even whether or not the subject is classified.  This information deficit — the trust deficit that goes with it — create problems for firefighters as well as for the rest of us. [Read more...]

Case Against Cutting Social Security

The case against cutting Social Security is strong.

· Social Security benefits are modest by any measure and are already being cut – by raising the age of eligibility for full benefits and by deducting ever-rising Medicare premiums from benefit checks.

· The cuts already in law add up to a19 percent reduction for people born in 1960 and later, see the National Academy of Social Insurance report, “Social Security Beneficiaries Face 19 Percent Cut; New Revenue Can Restore Balance.”

· Cutting benefits further could undermine much of what Social Security has achieved and expose millions of vulnerable people – elderly and disabled – to unnecessary hardship.

· Benefits are vital to nearly all recipients: about a third of elderly recipients reply on benefits for 90 percent  or more of their income; two-thirds count on it to supply at least half their income. The program lifts nearly 20 million Americans out of poverty, including 1 million children. [Read more...]