Larry Stammer's story (June 20) on incinerator ships cites the facts, makes the arguments, and effectively tells the story of using incinerator ships for the disposal of toxic wastes.
Certainly, no one quarrels with the idea of a technological solution to the growing horror of toxic waste disposal. A careful reading, however, shows that numerous hazards continue to exist for the public between the point where toxic wastes are generated and the super hot furnaces in a ship somewhere out at sea. The incinerator ship is a lineal descendant of the old land disposal concept. Wastes are generated, they are moved off-site, transported to a common place, and disposed of--out of sight and out of mind.
While presumably, the ships do not leak, and their deadly cargoes may not find their way into fresh drinking water supplies, most of the deficiencies of the land disposal idea are retained. Toxic wastes will continue to be consolidated on-site, posing great risks to communities. Toxic wastes must still be transported on city streets and intrastate (and perhaps interstate) highways. They must again be consolidated at the harbor and mechanically loaded into a ship. That ship must thread its way through crowded harbors and foggy coastal waterways to the burn sites.
In every step, the public is exposed to spills, explosions, contamination of water supplies, odors and anxiety.
Why not focus our efforts to find a technological solution to neutralize and dispose of toxic hazards where they are generated? Why transport these substances in lethal form? Why not, at least, neutralize toxic material on site and move them to regional burning plants? If the incinerators are as safe and efficient as their proponents maintain, why do they need to be 200 miles out at sea?