The deterioration of the nuclear-power industry in the former Eastern bloc is indeed extremely disturbing ("Many Chernobyls just waiting to happen," Science & Technology, Mar. 16). A serious accident in the East would reverberate throughout the international nuclear-energy community, regardless of whether such an accident was even possible in other countries.
We must immediately begin to either provide funds or direct grants of equipment. Although European equipment suppliers have reacted negatively to being asked to "give away our equipment," they must realize it is either help the East or risk losing the industry as a result of public reaction following an accident. Through the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), we can provide training and staffing support.
The world cannot afford to give up this major source of energy that produces neither acid rain nor greenhouse gases simply because we are too parochial to help our weaker sisters.
Theodore M. Besmann
Research Group Leader
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, Tenn.