Lake Ontario Log- On Activism


The Great Lakes are nothing less than a miracle. Over 97% of our aqueous earth's waters are salty. Most of our planet's freshwater is locked away in ice or flows and seeps through aquifers deep underground. Only a tiny fraction lies at the surface in the form of lakes and rivers-an amount roughly equal on a global scale to a simple drop in a bottle of wine. And 20% of earth's entire surface freshwater supply lies within the Great Lakes.


Many experts including some who work for the CIA believe that within a few decades water may replace oil as the fluid of greatest global strategic importance and potential conflict. A UN report issued last fall states that over a billion people lack access to the simple but vital commodity-clean healthful drinking water. Already violence has flared over scarce fresh water supplies in South Africa, the Middle East and India. Unless we change our ways, it is all but certain that conflicts over water will increase in the not too distant future.


Our global track record on water use has been abysmal. One has only to look at the Aral Sea in the Soviet Union for an ultimate example of careless stewardship. A once productive inland sea has turned to desert leaving behind sediments laden with toxic salts and heavy metals to blow in the wind.


Closer to home in the U.S. our largest user of water is agriculture, a use that wastes over 50% of the water diverted from rivers and lakes. Massive water relocation schemes and projects, subsidized by public funding, have made the desert bloom and the cities of southern California and Arizona sprawl and prosper even as upstate NY where I live continues to lose population to warmer drier climates. In California the scale of agri-business is staggering. Mile after mile of green intensively cultivated cropland lies under the bright winter sun and stretches across the floor of the storied Imperial Valley. And all those acres of lettuce and spinach and animal feed are nourished by water diverted from the distant Colorado River.


The Great Lakes are a treasure. Sound stewardship of their waters is vital to our future. That means diverting water from their basins only with great care and fore thought. It means cleaning up and containing the hundreds of old and not so old industrial dumpsites around and in them. That means containing Manhattan era radiation left at Lewiston and Port Hope. It means committing more resources to long-term erosion control at West Valley. And it means constant vigilance over the high level radioactive wastes now being stored at the dozens of commercial facilities that stand on the shores of the lower Great Lakes.


As regular Log readers know, I believe that to take the Great Lakes for granted is a grave injustice. There are, in the tradition of up stateís Oneida, certain natural laws-one of these being the need of pure wholesome water. We ignore these "natural laws" at our own peril.


This is why I wrote the Great Atomic Lake. We need to be reminded of the grave risks posed to our environment and unborn by this complex and inefficient method of boiling water to produce power. Electricity deregulation and higher natural gas prices have brought about renewed interest in nuclear power as a business. Political pressure is now intensifying to streamline the licensing and construction of new nuclear plants.


The re-use of old sites already polluted by existing nuclear plants is likely. That means the Great Lakes, especially Lake Ontario, most downstream of the lakes, will continue to be at risk from crevice corrosion, embrittlement, and the other unknowns associated with ageing stainless steel and other more exotic alloys of metal exposed to the various metallurgical deteriorations associated with the high temperatures and sometimes exotic chemistry of nuclear power.


There are safer cleaner simpler more efficient ways of making power. Please donít believe the half-truths told by politicians and the nuclear industry. Consider true life cycle costs and "external" costs. Accurate macro economic analysis that takes these into account shows this method of power production is neither cheap nor sustainable.Just say no to new nukes and tell your elected representatives to do the same.


An excerpt is posted on this site CHAPTER ONE .To get a copy of the entire text of The Great Atomic lake visit the where you can purchase it on line for $6.95 or send me a check for that amount at P.O. Box 202 Wolcott NY 14590 and your e mail address and I will forward a pdf file as an attachment. If you read this before February 28 2001, send payment to Susan P Gateley at 3739 29th St San Diego CA92104.