Opportunity Knocking

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One June 16, 2002, CNN.com reported, "The federal Energy Department is scheduled to ship the plutonium from the Rocky Flats weapons plant in Colorado — which is being closed — to South Carolina’s Savannah River nuclear weapons complex, where it will be used as fuel for a nuclear power plant." South Carolina governor Jim Hodges declared a state of emergency. He intends to have the state police stop the TRUCKS.

Think about that for a minute.

Let’s pretend this is fiction. Let’s say that you own some plutonium in Colorado that you sell to me in South Carolina. How would we arrange to ship it? By road, by rail, or by air?

We could truck it over a couple of thousand miles of taxway, I mean freeway, that passes through a dozen major metropolitan cities, but we decide that would be pretty stupid. Even with a military convoy to protect the trucks, some crazy driving a little compact car loaded with explosives could nail one of the trucks in one of myriad bottle-necks that riddle the taxway system in cities.

We could ship it by rail, but that not only poses the same hazard, it introduces the new hazard of train wreck on our old and poorly maintained rail system.

Finally, we decide to ship it by air and we call UPS. Now that sounds risky too, and it is, but people have been flying nuclear bombs around the planet for decades without a mishap, so it can’t be that risky. We would also decide to keep this shipment secret, very secret.

In fact, of course, all of the decisions in this matter are made by federal bureaucrats who have no personal or proprietary stake in it. They decided to ship it by truck. And far from being secret, the shipment has been advertised all over the world, probably even in Arabic.

One governor is standing up for the safety of the people in his state. Or maybe he is grandstanding, it doesn’t matter. What are the other governors saying? Is this shipment going through Kansas City? Chicago? Washington? Is anybody else worried about this dirty bomb rolling through town?

This project is so stupid it makes me wonder about the sanity of the people involved.

I wonder if anybody told the FBI yet?

Robert Klassen [send him mail] is a medical technician and writer. Here’s his web site.

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