NOW'S TIME TO STAND UP AND BE HEARD

July 21, 2002 11:00 pm

Being a good citizen is all about being informed on the issues. About getting as much information as possible before making a decision. About not jumping to conclusions or leaping to assumptions. About constantly re-examining assumptions. About giving all sides of an issue a fair hearing before making up one's mind.

Area residents have a chance to do just that Tuesday night from 7 to 9 when a public hearing takes place at the Best Western Inn. The hearing will allow residents living along the Interstate 84 corridor to testify on a U.S. Department of Energy plan to ship between 70,000 and 90,000 truckloads of radioactive and lower level waste to Hanford. Citizens can also comment in writing. Comments may be sent to Michael Collins at the Richland Operations Office, P.O. Box 550, Richland, WA 99352.

The nuclear reservation, across the Columbia River from Umatilla, is being considered as a final resting place for several levels of nuclear waste from across the United States.

This is no time for a complacent mindset. Consider the consequences of this plan. Get a feel for the worse-case scenario. This is not about bellyaching but about a constructive dialogue, letting our voices be heard now and not later when the plan is a reality.

We need assurances, not scientific contortions, from the Department of Energy that a complete Environmental Impact Statement has been done and that all the facts are on the table, not just the impact here but at Hanford and the nearby Columbia.

Good citizenship means taking personal responsibility. Tuesday offers just that chance.

WHISTLE STOP

With the hot nights of summer comes the need to keep windows open to allow a flow of air to hopefully cool the bedroom.

Past summers in La Grande have brought something besides air through those windows. Residents have complained about the incessant howling of locomotive whistles as one train after another makes its way through town.

THE SOUND has been familiar: two long blasts from the whistle, followed by a short blast and one more long blast. The train's arrival is announced at each crossing in town.

Union Pacific Railroad engineers should be commended for the approach they've taken this summer. In most cases, the engineers have reduced the noise in La Grande by sounding only short blasts at night.

The abbreviated whistles, combined with crossing arms, should be adequate to warn motorists downtown that a train is approaching. The reduced noise is appreciated by people who are finding it tough enough to deal with the hot summer nights without having to listen to the annoying blasts of a locomotive's horn.