Geophysicist Mark Cabot and his lover/fiancé Maura race against an impending, but unknowable, geological deadline to prevent a nuclear meltdown that threatens future generations with a nuclear winter, spelling the end of human-kind, and perhaps all life on earth. The action ranges between Washington DC; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Chincha Base, Peru; Cranston Labs, Snedens Landing, New York. It covers twelve days from discovery to the final climax. Mark faces death from a foreign covert group seeking nuclear power in their search for dominance over other nations. The resounding climax is a breathtaking, armed confrontation and geologic collapse in Peru, deep beneath the Andes Mountains.
The Under Secretary of the NRC rose and began talking as he distributed several documents to each participant. “As Earl Balthaz will explain further, our country has had a Nuclear Power Treaty with Peru for some years now. This treaty is supported by a rare minerals agreement whereby we, in cooperation with Peru, mine the rich deposits diagrammed by Dr. Bridger that lay under the Andes.
“As part of the treaty, we have supplied Nuclear Power Plant hardware, construction, training, and operating supervision. As their part of the treaty the Peruvians give us access to the minerals. Also, as part of the treaty, and this is known to only those with a need-to-know top security clearance, we are granted the right to deposit in the deep coastal crust, low level, or LLW, nuclear wastes from USA plants as well as the Peruvian installations. These deposits consist of low level wastes with a half life of twenty-five thousand years.”
“Just how long have we been depositing?” one of the committee members asked.
“Depositing began in Phase Four of the project development. This was before the Peruvian Nuclear Plants went into operation. Phase One was the development of the mines and their operations. Phase Two was the actual mining operation which provided caverns for our master control center and tunnel systems for the depositories. During Phase Three we constructed the sensitive depository sites for acceptance of the wastes. This took several years, as you can imagine. We have been receiving such payoff from the mining operation that the project is making a profit, even after the enormous cost of waste site development is deducted.
“Now,” he continued, “there has been a change in the level of wastes that are being deposited. We have been shipping high level Plutonium waste materials to the Chincha Base site for two years.”
The room fell silent as he let that piece of information sink into their minds.
“You mean that we are burying weapons grade Plutonium in Peru?” another of the Committee asked.
“Why? I thought we were stockpiling this material for reprocessing use in the developing breeder reactors.”
“You are right, of course. But it was finally acknowledged that, for the foreseeable future, the breeder was impossible both technologically and economically. The NRC has been under tremendous pressure all of these years from environmental groups, citizens lobby’s, and from scientific community pressure groups to divest ourselves of these potentially dangerous precipitants of the nuclear energy process.
“Even though we were saving the Plutonium for the breeder program, there were other wastes that had to be disposed of. We have been blocked at every turn in our search for acceptable disposal sites throughout the US. When Peru requested to purchase Nuclear Energy Plants from the United States, we saw a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” he said to Mark, “but it was about this time we received confirmation from Cranston Labs that the predicted mineral precipitation deposits did indeed actually exist in high concentrations under the coastal plain of Peru and, incidentally, in other accessible areas in the world.”
Mark nodded, “Yes, that is true. We negotiated a deal. You have summary copies of the treaty that Earl Balthaz provided us with.”
“Earl,” he said, “do you have anything to add?”
“Yes,” Earl said. “Our operation in Peru is two-fold. We take minerals out and share this wealth with the government of Peru. We put nuclear wastes back into the ground, wastes from the USA plants only. Up until now the wastes from the Peruvian plants are being stored on site. We are in process of negotiating the deposit of their waste into the mine site. I won’t go into detail, because there is no need for you to know. However, let me make this point clear: The Peruvian government does not know of our recent
Plutonium deposit schedule. They were to be informed at the proper moment in the negotiating process.”
Mark looked at Phil and smiled a wry smile. More political boondoggle, the thought.
“Now,” Earl said, “we are facing another more immediate problem.”
The first third of Rich Adams’ life was spent as a classical tenor. He began writing advertising copy in his early thirties. He has won several national awards for advertising and has also published magazine articles and a weekly newspaper column.
Look for Book One of his Detective Jerzey Swift series, KNIFE LINES, coming soon. He lives with his wife and Dachshund, Heidi, at Lake Norman, North Carolina.