The Prism
The Independent
Chlorine in the Environment
Radioactive Waste
To the Editor,

As ever, I really enjoyed your September issue--especially Michael Steinberg's hard-hitting piece on Durham's abandoned houses and Patrick O'Neill's in-depth story on the nuclear waste dump.

In every issue of ThePrism, there's something I want to read, something from a progressive perspective that I'm not getting from the rest of the press. Thanks so much for doing it.

In the same issue, Dan Coleman slammed me and The Independent for not running one of his submissions: a piece reviewing arguments in Wellspring Grocery's internal newsletter about the company's decision to drop its senior citizen discount. Dan says that we didn't publish his piece "in order to serve the interests of management."

Fiddlesticks. We didn't publish Dan's piece because Taylor Sisk was already writing a story for us on the same subject. Taylor Sisk wrote an interesting, unorthodox piece skeptically questioning whether Wellspring's savings on the senior citizen discount would translate into across-the-board discounts. He challenged Wellspring to offer "Junior Discounts" to the neediest in our society: children.

I found out by accident that Taylor had been assigned to write the story, and I didn't see it in any form until it appeared in the paper. Honest.

Here's one dirty secret to confirm Dan's worst conspiracy theories about The Independent: We make our living--for our 28 staffers and scores of freelancers and delivery people--by selling advertising. That enables us to do our candidate endorsements, our investigative reporting, our cultural writing. It enables us to pay a decent wage and provide good benefits to our staff. It pays for the work for Barry Yeoman, Eric Bates, Sue Sturgis, Gillian Floren, M. J. Sharp and Karen Mann.

I'll be the first to admit that selling ads brings a flood of ethical questions in its wake. And in 13 years of publishing The Independent, I've made lots of compromises that I'm sure Dan Coleman would never make.

Prism friends: Keep up the good work.

Warm wishes,
Steve Schewel
, The Independent

Dan Coleman responds:

Steve Schewel neglects three critical points in his response to my piece: 1) Carol Collier told me directly that a submission on Wellspring would be treated differently due to Wellspring's importance as an advertiser; 2) my piece in no way "slammed" The Independent for not printing my article--it analyzed the difference between the treatment they rejected and the one they finally printed; and 3) The Independent has a history of treating Wellspring with kid gloves as they did at the time of the Whole Foods takeover.

Schewel's focus on the minor question of why he chose not to run my submission overlooks the substance of my criticism: that The Independent chose to ignore the voices of workers while taking a line that took the prerogatives of management for granted. Schewel's sarcastic comments about "conspiracy theories" do not change this fact.

I agree that there may be no conspiracy at work here--perhaps just Schewel's own biases as a business executive acting in support of the prerogatives of his peers.

I do not question that Schewel makes many tough decisions or that The Independent produces much good work. I hope he agrees that we are all the better for some occasional healthy criticism.

It is ironic that, when criticized in The Prism, The Independent reacts with the same defensive and obscurantist style seen when those to its right respond to criticism on its own pages.

Finally, it should be noted that The Prism, like The Independent, depends on advertising revenue. Fortunately, ours derives from small local businesses whose affairs, thus far, have led to no ethical dilemmas.

To the editor,

This letter is an invitation for everyone to take action to stop paper manufacturers from releasing dangerous chemicals into our environment. Specifically, paper manufacturers use chlorine bleach in the bleaching process. The by-products, called organochlorines, end up in our environment, eventually making their way up the food chain into our bodies. Many scientific studies have documented the effects on humans including: cancer, reproductive failure and infertility, reduced sperm count, disrupted immune system functioning, feminization of males, and impaired childhood development. Reduced sperm counts have already been detected in males living around the Great Lakes. Organocholorines have been linked to breast cancer.

Paper manufacturers around the world have phased out chlorine bleach. Why is the US so slow to do likewise when safe, economical alternatives exist? Safe alternatives include oxygen or hydrogen peroxide bleaching.

There is a simple way we can make our voices heard for totally chlorine-free paper products. Magazines use vast amounts of paper. By sending word to the major national magazines they will in turn demand totally chlorine-free paper. You know those subscription cards that annoyingly fall out of magazines when you pick them up? Simply mail in every one you find (or can get a hold of) with a message such as, "save our breasts, no chlorine bleach." This takes a few seconds to drop in the mail box. The best part is, the magazines pick up the cost of postage! If you are more ambitious you should send a letter to the editor canceling your subscription until they have phased out chlorine bleach. Spread the word to friends and family about this simple campaign. As a nation we need to kick the corporate profiteers off their lazy asses and reclaim the health of our environment and ourselves.

Earth Gardens
Chapel Hill

To the Editor,

It is a great disappointment that the Southeast Low-level Radioactive Waste Compact has again infused funds into trying to license the Wake-Chatham site for a nuclear dump. The project is seven years behind schedule and five times over budget and yet the Authority has not been able to prove the site is safe. Geologically, it is an area of very complex fractured rocks. No prediction can be made where leaking radioactive material would go if storage failed. The geological consultant for Chatham County called it the worst geological site in the state for a dump.

Last week I joined with ten other Triangle Democratic State Legislative candidates to say, "enough is enough;" it is time to halt the project. But the Compact approved another $6 million on top of the $90 million it already spent which will keep it alive until after the election and into the next legislative session. The utilities, which produce the lion's share of the waste (as well as large campaign contributions), want the public to have the responsibility and liability for the waste by building a centralized dump rather than on-site storage. And the Compact's plan shifts not only the liability, but also the cost to North Carolina taxpayers.

We must keep the spotlight on the process and make sure it is open and responsive to all North Carolinians who have to live with the waste for hundreds of years. We must not let the utilities, which will contribute not only operating waste to the dump, but also decommissioning of power plants, make the decision. If elected, I will join with my Democratic colleagues to introduce a bill to form a citizens' commission to make a decision based on good science and good public policy for the low-level radioactive waste dump.

Eleanor Kinnaird

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