The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—It is a relief to read that the situation in Algiers has been more or less ironed out. It does not seem to be a permanent settlement as yet, but perhaps, with the new powers that have been voted him, President Charles de Gaulle can work out a state linked to France, which would be satisfactory to both the French settlers and the Arab citizens in Algiers.

It is also a relief to know that apparently the Syrians are being ordered to withdraw from the truce zone, near the Sea of Galilee, on the Syrian-Israeli border.

In India it looks as though the coalition against the Communists in Kerala would win a very decisive victory, and this, too, is good news.

But as one looks around the world there is no reason for that spirit of complacency that so many Americans seem to have at this time. Everywhere you look there are precarious situations. And, while, apparently, before they come to disaster they are usually met in some way, there is no real reason for thinking we are living in a peaceful world.

Now I must report on something that has just been brought to my attention. My correspondent writes:

"At least three bills are now before the House of Representatives (in Washington) which would take control of atomic waste sea dumping from the hands of the AEC and place it where we believe it rightly belongs—in the hands of the United States Public Health Service."

These bills are HR 8187, 8423, and 7014.

My correspondent is temporary chairman of the Lower Cape Committee on Radioactive Waste Disposal, and he lives in Wellfleet, Mass. He says there are several other citizen groups in the East that are urging active Congressional intervention in the problem of radioactive waste disposal in our coastal waters. These other groups have been active in New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, Connecticut, Florida, and elsewhere.

The dump site off the tip of Cape Cod, which is my correspondent's concern, is barely 12 miles off the Boston shore and in the heart of the Atlantic sea lanes leading into Boston harbor. According to the newspaper story sent to me, there are included among the dumped radioactive material isotopes yielded by the development of the first atomic bomb—the bomb that exploded over Hiroshima.

Hauled out to sea in a metal drum they were dropped over the side of a vessel in 250 feet of water in 1946. And, until a few months ago, over a period of nearly 12 years, ships returned to the dumping site regularly with more waste cargoes, whose potential hazard can only be guessed at.

It is now discovered that in 1954 the National Committee on Radiation Protection specifically recommended that radioactive waste disposal be carried out in depths of at least 1,000 fathoms, or 6,000 feet. The Lower Cape Committee says:

"If atomic dumping with its grave implications to life and human well-being can be initiated and carried out without the knowledge and consent of citizens of areas which can receive contamination, we believe this is a matter for the U.S. courts."

This situation is one, I think, that very few of the people of the United States have been conscious of, and it is time that we got a little more information.

E. R.

(Copyright, 1960, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 4, 1960

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.